IMPORT LICENSING

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Six members called on China to provide more information on its import restrictions on waste products. The European Union initiated the discussion at the meeting, requesting China to provide a complete list of products subject to import licences, a detailed description of import procedures applicable to waste products, and clarification on whether China intended further amendments to the measures currently in force.

Korea said China, being a large trading member, should ensure its measures are carried out in a transparent and cautious manner considering its huge impact on the global recycling chain. The United States said it was disappointed about the lack of notification, requested a halt in the implementation of the import restriction and sought less trade-restrictive measures. Japan said the restrictions have already made a significant impact and that it would like to continue discussions with China and other members on this issue.  Australia and Canada also sought further clarification on the issue.

China, in response, said it was fully committed to the WTO agreements. China said it was carefully reviewing the questions and will provide a written response as soon as possible.

Thailand's measures on feed wheat

The European Union reiterated its concern over Thailand's import procedures for feed wheat. It noted that it had submitted an additional set of questions inquiring what the basis for the measure was and why Thailand allowed certain imports of corn from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Canada expressed its concern over the matter as well.

Thailand replied that the measure was a temporary one to relieve the drop in corn prices. It said internal consultations were still ongoing in Bangkok over the concerns members have raised.

India's measures on pulses and boric acid

Members reiterated their concern over certain import licensing requirements in India. Australia, the European Union, Canada, the United States, Ukraine and Japan raised issue with India's quantitative restrictions on imports of pulses, particularly black lentils, mung beans and pigeon peas. India said it intends to notify to the WTO the quota allocations and procedures for 2018 to 2019 soon. The United States further reiterated its concern over India's import licensing requirements for boric acid. India said the issue has been explained in previous meetings and discussed bilaterally as well.

Other trade concerns

The European Union signalled that it had submitted new questions to Argentina, Egypt and the Russian Federation about their respective import licensing regulations and procedures. The EU also noted that it had submitted follow-up comments to previously reviewed import licensing notifications of Brazil, specifically covering imported industrial nitrocellulose. The EU further sought information from Indonesia on a ministerial regulation that will govern alcoholic beverages.

Several members made statements on four other trade concerns previously raised with the Committee.  The United States, the European Union, Switzerland and New Zealand reiterated their concerns over Indonesia's import requirements related to milk supply and distribution. The United States also raised the issue again of Indonesia's import licensing regime for cell phones, handheld computers and tablets. Chile said it was concerned with Indonesian regulations on agricultural products including fruit.

Indonesia, in response, said it had notified its regulations on milk to the WTO last November and that it carefully considered WTO rules and principles in drafting the policy. As for the issue with information and communications technology goods, Indonesia said the regulations, which it has already notified to the WTO, cover both foreign and domestic suppliers and are meant to protect consumers.

Members' compliance with notification obligations

The Committee reviewed 33 new notifications submitted by WTO members since the last meeting held on 3 October 2017.

The chair, Mr Fawaz Almuballi (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), drew members' attention particularly to the first ever notification of Botswana to the Committee. Botswana appreciated the technical support extended by the WTO Secretariat that enabled it to overcome capacity constraints associated with notification work.

The chair informed the Committee that 15 members have not submitted any notification on import licensing since joining the WTO while 24 have never submitted replies to the annual questionnaire on import licensing procedures. The chair urged those members concerned to submit their notifications as soon as possible.

As for discussions in the Committee to examine and simplify notification procedures, the chair said he would pass this work to his successor. The European Union, the United States, Japan, China, Korea, Hong Kong China, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Switzerland and Australia supported continuing the discussions with a view to further improve transparency regarding import licensing. Meanwhile, the Secretariat has been working on a new website and database on import licensing which is expected to be launched for comments in the coming weeks, he said.

Election of officers

The Committee elected its new chair, Ms Lorena Rivera Orjuela (Colombia), and its new vice-chair Mr Kazunori Fukuda (Japan).

Next meeting

The chair said the next Committee meeting is tentatively scheduled for 2 November 2018.

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