COUNCIL FOR TRADE IN GOODS

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The 11 sponsors of the proposal — Argentina, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, the European Union, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Chinese Taipei, the United Kingdom and the United States — took the floor to elaborate on the revisions they made after undertaking outreach to members on how the text could be improved.

They said the proposal had been revised to take account of comments from other members and acknowledged the different types of challenges faced in preparing notifications. Some of the key changes include reordering and simplifying the technical assistance and capacity building provisions, which would be broadened to include all members, and the expansion of the role of the Working Group on Notification Obligations and Procedures to facilitate improvements in notification processes. Among the other key changes are the inclusion of a multi-year transition period after the transparency reform is adopted, the inclusion of information about notification compliance in members' Trade Policy Reviews, and the removal of financial penalties as an element of administrative measures for members that fail to meet notification obligations.

Proponents said they would welcome members' support for this initiative to reinforce transparency as a core principle for the effective functioning of the WTO and that they would welcome reactions as members advance towards MC12.

Four members — Chile, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland — welcomed the changes and indicated that they too would like to become co-sponsors of the proposal. Some other members welcomed the changes and said the latest version of the proposal is a good basis for obtaining consensus. Other members said they were studying the proposal and consulting with their capitals, with some continuing to raise concerns over the proposed administrative measures that remained in the proposal.

The chair of the Council, Ambassador Lundeg Purevsuren of Mongolia, thanked the proponents for updating members on the latest changes.

The Council also took note of 11 notifications of regional trade agreements and agreed to forward to the General Council for adoption the European Union's request for a waiver extension to allow it to apply preferential treatment for the Western Balkans until 31 December 2026. They continued discussions on the Least-Developed Countries (LDC) Group's proposal concerning countries that have graduated from LDC status. Members also continued discussions on suggestions to improve the functioning of the Council and its subsidiary committees and exchanged views on the work programme on electronic commerce.

Trade concerns

The Council heard 33 trade concerns, both new and previously raised. The full agenda of the meeting is available here.

Japan requested to remove a previously listed agenda item on China's customs duties on certain integrated circuits, noting that it had confirmed that China had already eliminated such duties.

Next meeting

The Council is tentatively expected to meet again on 1-2 November 2021.

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