WTO: 2014 NEWS ITEMS


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Chile has joined a number of developing countries that opened their markets to products from LDCs without duty or quotas. It reported to the sub-committee that Chile has set the customs duties on most products from LDCs at zero since 28 February 2014, except for wheat, flour and sugar.

On behalf of the LDC group, Uganda expressed appreciation to Chile for their comprehensive duty-free quota-free scheme. The LDCs also underlined the need for simple rules of origin requirements for them to secure meaningful market access in their export destination markets.

A decision at the 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference called for members to provide increasingly greater market access to LDCs before the next Ministerial Conference in 2015. The decision is an affirmation of the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Conference Declaration which states that “developed-country Members, and developing-country Members declaring themselves in a position to do so, agree to implement duty-free and quota-free market access for products originating from LDCs”. The Bali decisions also set guidelines for members to streamline their preferential rules of origin, to enable LDCs to make better use of the market opportunities.

Most of the WTO’s developed countries now provide duty-free and quota-free market access for the products from LDCs. A number of developing-country members are also making efforts to open their markets for exports from the world’s poorest countries.

LDCs represent the poorest and weakest segment of the international community. The current list of LDCs includes 48 countries, 34 of which are WTO members and eight are in the process of joining. The LDCs represent about 12% of the world’s population, but account for less than 2% of world GDP and about 1% of global trade in products.

Technical assistance for least-developed countries   back to top

LDCs are given priority in the implementation of WTO's technical assistance, according to a brief by the WTO secretariat on the technical assistance activities in 2013. LDCs were invited to 57% of all technical activities organized in 2013, a progression compared to 2012. The WTO has also developed and delivered advanced courses tailored to the needs of the LDCs.

The LDCs are also given priority in long term internships and the reference centre programmes. Overall, 60% of long-term interns came from an LDC in 2013. The secretariat also noted the steady increase of LDC participants in WTO's e-learning courses which has become an essential prerequisite for intermediate and advanced level of trainings in the WTO.

The WTO Chairs Programme, a partnership between the WTO and selected developing-country academic institutions, has included universities in LDCs such as Senegal. The WTO Chairs Programme aims to support and promote trade-related academic activities by universities and research institutions in developing countries through curriculum development, research and outreach activities.

Activities to help poorest members trade   back to top

Members also heard an update of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), a multi-donor programme to help LDCs take part in trade. EIF Executive Director Ratnakar Adhikari, reported that 31 diagnostic trade integration studies and eight updates have been approved to help LDCs identify their trade opportunities and overcome the constraints. The EIF has also organized workshops in Africa, Asia and the Pacific to raise awareness and build the capacity for trade in these regions. The World Tourism Organization entered the EIF partnership as the latest Observer Agency in recognition of the preeminent role that tourism plays in LDC economies.

In response, the LDCs reiterated the importance of the programme to build their trade capacities. They urged donors and other development partners to enhance the current level of EIF resources for an increasing number of projects.

Partner agencies' updates   back to top

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) briefed on the workshop it organized on 9 April 2014 to advance the Bali Decision on Preferential Rules of Origin. The decision contains a set of multilaterally agreed guidelines to make it easier for LDC exports to qualify for preferential market access. The LDC Group is currently working with UNCTAD to make a submission at the autumn meeting of the WTO Rules of Origin Committee, outlining the challenges faced by the LDCs in complying with existing rules of origin.

The representative of the World Bank announced its support programme to help developing countries, in particular LDCs, to reform their Trade Facilitation laws and practices in line with WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement. The Programme, supported by Australia, Canada, the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the United States, has US$30 million. The aim of the programme is to assist LDCs with addressing some immediate needs arising from implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

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