The group hopes to have a draft final list by the middle of June and will be ready to engage in “more serious and intensive negotiations” on the list from the week of 24 June 2013. Subsequently, there will be meetings during the week of 15 July 2013 towards finalizing negotiations.
Customs experts from different member countries participating from capitals held intensive technical discussion dedicated to the issue of customs implementation and identified possible solutions to outstanding problems. In total, 81 negotiators and customs experts met during the week.
Members with “sensitivities” (items that they feel reluctant or opposed to include in the list) were encouraged to register these sensitivities, without prejudice to the draft final list, and include information such as the tariff line, the product description, the justification for the sensitivity and the request, either the removal of the item, staging (to implement over an agreed timetable) or “ex-out” (products that are partially covered).
Japan also reported that the group made progress in streamlining the consolidated list for expanding the coverage of the ITA.
The negotiations held on 27-31 May 2013 were the 11th round for the technical working group. Negotiations started on 1 June last year with only six members. Last week, three new members were added — El Salvador, Iceland and Guatemala — bringing the group up to 25 members if the European Union is counted as one.
If the EU is counted as 27, there are now 52 signatories out of the 76 current ITA members. The 52 signatories to the group for the expansion of coverage already represent over 90 per cent of global trade in products covered by the current ITA.
Some of the original proposals for inclusion in the list were considered by some members as irrelevant for the ITA and others too sensitive by some participants. The aim is to reach an expansion to the products covered in the Agreement that is “credible for the industry and manageable for customs administrations”. The new expanded coverage should reflect the realities of today's trade.