Members considered the Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and Turkey (goods), which entered into force on 1 January 2021. It maintains the preferential conditions provided between the parties when the UK was a member of the European Union's customs union. However, trade in industrial goods between the two countries is subject to a free trade agreement rather than a customs union, and therefore to rules of origin requirements. The Agreement also aims to further trade liberalization and facilitation between the parties in the future.

The Agreement provides a strong foundation for the parties' trading relations, the UK said, noting that Turkey was the UK's 18th largest trading partner. Turkey stated that the Agreement establishes the fundamental rules and disciplines to be applied to goods trade. Turkey further highlighted that the Agreement had had a positive impact, with bilateral trade increasing 15% in 2021 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The factual presentation on the FTA as well as the document compiling members' questions and answers are available here.

Members also considered the Free Trade Agreement between the UK and Singapore (goods and services), which entered into force on 1 January 2021. It is the first trade agreement of the UK with a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Agreement is based on the FTA between the EU and Singapore which has been in force since 2019. Singapore has already eliminated remaining tariffs under the Agreement while the UK will eliminate 99.7% of its tariffs by 2024. The parties have also built upon their level of services trade liberalization, in particular on financial services, and agreed to enter into negotiations to deepen their mutual obligations on investment protection.

The UK said the Agreement opens the door to one of the world's most vital regions and maintains benefits for small and medium-sized enterprises through the provision of simplified customs procedures. Singapore said the Agreement provides practical benefits by giving clarity in trading arrangements between the two nations.

The factual presentation on the FTA as well as the document compiling members' questions and answers are available here.

The Free Trade Agreement between China and Mauritius (goods and services) entered into force on 1 January 2021. Mauritius said the Agreement was the first between China and an African country and that it was confident it will deepen cooperation between the two countries and contribute to economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. China said the Agreement promotes economic and trade liberalization and facilitation consistent with WTO rules.

Once the Agreement is implemented in 2028, only 2.8% of China's tariffs will apply to imports from Mauritius, with a corresponding 3.7% of Mauritius' tariffs applying to imports from China. On services, China and Mauritius have provided greater access to several sectors compared to their WTO commitments.

The factual presentation on the RTA as well as the document compiling members' questions and answers are available here.

Implementation of the RTA Transparency Mechanism

Members were informed that 59 RTAs have still not been notified to the WTO. In addition, there are 68 RTAs involving WTO members and 37 involving non-members for which a factual presentation has to be prepared, counting goods and services separately.

The outgoing chair, Ambassador Cleopa Kilonzo Mailu (Kenya), 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, with the aim that the outstanding information would be provided soon. An updated list of delayed information was circulated as WT/REG/W/166. The Chair also reminded members that end-of-implementation reports were pending for 180 RTAs at the end of 2021, with a further 14 required during 2022.

Many members also took the floor to express their strong opposition to the invasion of Ukraine.

New Chair

Before the close of the meeting, members elected Ambassador Taeho Lee (Republic of Korea) as Chair of the Committee. Members thanked the outgoing chair, Ambassador Mailu, for his service over the past year.

Next meeting

The next CRTA meeting will take place on 27-28 June.




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