WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

1 August 2001

Moore hails implementation breakthrough

Director-General Mike Moore today hailed agreement reached last night to approve long-standing requests from eight developing countries to extend the grace period for complying with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures.

Mr. Moore said agreement on this TRIMs issue was an important step in addressing the concerns raised by many developing countries on the implementation of existing WTO agreements. Mr. Moore said it was vital for member governments to focus efforts on finding solutions to the complex and divisive implementation problems which many developing countries have said represent the most important item on the WTO's agenda. General Council Chairman Stuart Harbinson, Hong Kong, China, also announced last night that the council had referred four other implementation issues and a Jamaican proposal to subsidiary bodies for action. He said early agreement was also possible on four other implementation proposals which were technical in nature. Many developing countries have made their support for the launch of a new Round at the 4th Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar conditional on resolution of these implementation issues.

ôResolution of these issues is certainly a positive step. This a sign of new flexibility among members that augurs well for a successful Ministerial Conference in Doha this November. But a good deal more remains to be done. Some member governments have made clear that absent progress on implementation they cannot support the launch of a round. This is something which proponents of a round must address,ö he said.

The Goods Council, on 31 July 2001, adopted decisions granting extension of the transition period for the elimination of TRIMs notified under Article 5.1 of the TRIMs Agreement to the following countries: Argentina, Colombia, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines and Romania. At the same time, it recommended that the General Council grant a waiver to Thailand for its TRIMs. The waiver for Thailand was approved by the General Council in a meeting that immediately followed that of the Goods Council.

The TRIMs Agreement provides for disciplines on measures in trade in goods that favour domestic over imported goods or establish quantitative restrictions on imports. An example of a TRIM is domestic content requirement in automobile manufacture. Developing countries were given a transition period of five years (1995-2000) to wind up their TRIMs. The new decisions extend this deadline for the requesting countries by two years (from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2001) with a possible further two years (1 January 2002 to 31 December 2003), subject to certain criteria such as the submission of a phase-out plan for the TRIMs measure.