The WTO Secretariat presented to the sub-committee its annual report on LDCs’ market access (WT/COMTD/LDC/W/59). The report notes that in 2013 the total value of LDC exports of goods and commercial services grew by 5.2%, more than twice the world average (2.5%). However, the total share of LDC trade still remains marginal at around 1.23% of the world’s total.
The LDCs also face a higher trade deficit as imports increased more than exports in 2013. Moreover, LDC exports are concentrated in a handful of products and sectors. Developing economies have also become more important as the destination market of LDC exports, receiving 55% of total LDC exports in 2013, up from 40% in 2000.
Evolution of LDC exports of goods and commercial services, 2000-2013
Source: WTO Secretariat.
The report focuses in particular on LDCs’ trade in services. It notes that travel receipts, estimated at $14.2 billion in 2013, continue to account for the majority of LDC exports of commercial services. Transport exports, which reached US$ 7.5 billion in 2013, are an important source of revenue in particular for African LDCs.
Structure of LDC commercial services exports, 2013
Source: WTO-UNCTAD estimates.
The report provides an overview of the market access for LDC products in developing and developed economies as well as the non-tariff measures that affect access to these markets.
Uganda (representing the LDC group) highlighted the challenges faced by LDCs, and called upon members to open up markets for LDC products and to increase aid for trade to LDCs. It also welcomed the report’s analysis of LDCs’ trade in services and urged members to put the WTO 2011 LDC Services Waiver decision into action. LDCs called for the full implementation of duty-free and quota-free market access for LDC products.
A number of members took active part in the discussion and provided specific comments on the report, which will be taken into account in a revised version.
Preferential rules of origin
The sub-committee heard a report by the WTO Secretariat on the first annual review of preferential rules of origin, which had been conducted by the Committee on Rules of Origin in line with the Bali Ministerial Decision.
Uganda and Nepal underlined the importance of simplified rules of origin to facilitate LDC exports. They also highlighted a document (G/RO/W/148) that the LDC group had submitted to the Rules of Origin Committee on the challenges faced by LDCs in complying with preferential rules of origin.
The Bali decision on preferential rules of origin provides a set of guidelines for members to formulate their rules of origin for LDCs in a transparent, simple and objective manner. Rules of origin are the criteria needed to determine the national source of a product. To benefit from duty-free and quota-free market access, exporters from an LDC need to comply with the criteria set by the importing country to determine where the product was made.
Standards and Trade Development Facility
The sub-committee heard a presentation by the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), a global partnership that supports developing countries in complying with sanitary and heath standards. One project mentioned in the presentation was a joint study with the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), the LDCs’ Aid for Trade programme, which analysed how sanitary and health standards are being considered in the assessment of LDCs’ export competitiveness and constraints.
Uganda welcomed the STDF’s work which has assisted many LDCs in articulating their development needs. It also welcomed the fact that over half of the STDF’s funding goes to LDCs.