REGIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS
Parties to the Pacific Alliance – Additional protocol to the framework agreement between Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru emphasized the deep economic integration among members resulting from the agreement, which entered into force on 1 May 2016. The agreement consolidated regional links among parties who already had bilateral agreements.
Chile, who spoke on behalf of the group, said the agreement was one of the most successful integration initiatives in the region. Already, duties on 92% of tariff lines have been eliminated and, by 2030, all products except sugar will be able to circulate freely among the parties to the agreement, Chile said. Provisions in the agreement also cover other areas such as trade in services, investment, government procurement and electronic commerce. The Pacific Alliance seeks to be an area of deep integration and move towards the free movement of goods, services, people and capital, Chile said.
Members also considered the Free Trade Agreement between Armenia and Kazakhstan. The agreement came into force on 3 January 2002 and liberalized all trade in goods between the two countries from 2003. Both have since become members of the EAEU and trade between them now takes place under the EAEU agreement.
Armenia and Kazakhstan said they were important markets for each other and that trade has grown under the bilateral free trade agreement. Moreover, a new level of integration has been reached through their membership of the EAEU, which allows for the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour among parties.
The third agreement members considered was the Free Trade Agreement between the EAEU and Viet Nam. Under the agreement, which entered into force on 5 October 2016, members of the EAEU agree to liberalize over 85% of tariffs for imports from Viet Nam by 2025. Viet Nam will liberalize 94.5% of its tariffs by 2027. The agreement also provides for the liberalization of trade in services between the Russian Federation and Viet Nam.
The Russian Federation said the agreement is historical for being the first concluded by the EAEU with a third party. Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Belarus noted respective increases in their trade with Viet Nam. Viet Nam said the EAEU has been an important market for Vietnamese exports of garments, footwear, electronics, rice and other agricultural products while the EAEU has been a key supplier of chemicals, paper, petroleum, fertilizer, machinery and industrial equipment.
Implementation of the RTA Transparency Mechanism
The chair of the Committee, Ambassador Carlos Mario Foradori (Argentina), informed members that 79 RTAs still have not been notified to the WTO. In addition, there are 24 RTAs involving WTO members only and a further 20 involving non-members for which a factual presentation has to be prepared, counting goods and services separately. The chair said he had held consultations with delegations for which the RTA factual consideration remains delayed due to the lack of comments or data from the members involved.
The United States considered this to be problematic for traders and said that the lack of notifications and transparency undermines the functioning of WTO agreements. The European Union again asked parties to the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA) to respond to questions concerning their respective RTAs.
The next meeting of the Committee is scheduled for 7-8 November.