The draft decision reaffirms members' commitment to the WTO work programme on small economies, adopted in 2002. The objective of the programme, which is carried out in dedicated sessions of the Committee on Trade and Development, is to address the trade-related issues facing small, vulnerable economies (SVEs) and to help them integrate into the multilateral trading system. Recommendations made by the dedicated session are forwarded to the WTO's General Council for action.
SVEs account for only a small percentage of world trade. WTO members recognize that these economies, while not forming an official sub-category of members, face specific challenges due to their small size and the distance which separates them from their key trading partners.
The SVEs have made several proposals in the Doha Round negotiating groups and in other WTO bodies, mainly regarding agriculture, industrial goods, services, rules, including fisheries subsidies, and trade facilitation. A compilation of these proposals and past General Council and ministerial decisions is available in document WT/COMTD/SE/W/22/Rev.7.
The draft decision forwarded to the Ministerial Conference requires the WTO Secretariat to continue its work on addressing the challenges experienced by small economies when linking into global value chains for trade in goods and services, and to conduct work on the challenges small economies experience in their efforts to reduce trade costs, particularly in the area of trade facilitation.
The draft decision says:
"The Ministerial Conference decides as follows:
We reaffirm our commitment to the Work Programme on Small Economies and take note of all the work conducted to date. In particular, we note that document WT/COMTD/SE/W/22/Rev.7 and its previous revisions reflect the work of the Dedicated Session up to the Tenth Ministerial Conference. We take note of the work carried out since 2013, including that on the challenges and opportunities faced by small economies when linking into global value chains in trade in goods and services, and instruct the CTD to continue its work in Dedicated Session under the overall responsibility of the General Council.
Furthermore, we instruct the Dedicated Session to consider in further detail the various submissions that have been received to date, examine any additional proposals that Members might wish to submit and, where possible, and within its mandate, make recommendations to the General Council on any of these proposals. The General Council shall direct relevant subsidiary bodies to frame responses to the trade-related issues identified by the CTD with a view to making recommendations for action. We instruct the WTO Secretariat to provide relevant information and factual analysis for discussion among Members in the CTD's Dedicated Session, inter alia, in the areas identified in item k of paragraph 2 of the Work Programme on Small Economies and, in particular, to continue its work on the challenges and opportunities experienced by small economies when linking into global value chains in trade in goods and services. We request the Secretariat to also conduct work on the challenges small economies experience in their efforts to reduce trade costs, particularly in the area of trade facilitation.
The CTD in Dedicated Session shall continue monitoring the progress of the small economy proposals in WTO bodies and in negotiating groups with the aim of providing responses, as soon as possible, to the trade-related issues identified for the fuller integration of SVEs in the multilateral trading system."