Buenos Aires Sixth China Round Table

Theme: Strengthening the Rules-based Multilateral Trading System and Building a Network to Promote Accessions
Date: 9 December 2017
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Programme

Background

The China Round Tables (CRTs) have served as platforms to discuss wide ranging accession-related issues.  The first five Round Tables were held in Beijing, China in May 2012; Luang Prabang, Lao PDR in October 2013; Dushanbe, Tajikistan in June 2015; Nairobi, Kenya in December 2015; and Siem Reap, Cambodia in March 2017.  The central purpose of the CRTs has been to sustain discussions on the integration of new members in the rules-based multilateral trading system.  They have provided a forum for dialogue and experience-sharing on WTO accessions and post-accession practices, and for exploring in what ways the WTO could be supportive of reform-driven trade development.(1)

The Sixth China Round Table on WTO Accessions and the Multilateral Trading System, the first to be held in Latin America, took place on 9 December, back-to-back with the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The China Round Table underscored the central role that WTO accessions play in strengthening the multilateral trading system and in expanding its scope. An objective of this Round Table was to establish a network to promote accessions. This network would serve as a platform to (i) connect former and current negotiators directly involved in accession negotiations; (ii) share knowledge and perspectives on how to solve challenges in accession negotiations; and (iii) learn from past experiences. Taking into account this objective, the targeted participants of the Sixth China Round Table were Chief Negotiators and members of the negotiating teams from the acceding governments, former accession negotiators from selected Article XII members, accession Working Party Chairpersons and those individuals who have been actively involved in accession negotiations.   

Since the establishment of the WTO, 36 accessions were negotiated and concluded pursuant to Article XII of the Marrakesh Agreement. New WTO Members have gone through a complex negotiation process that typically entails decisive policy-making and intensive legal, economic and structural reforms. A number of key elements that facilitate the conclusion of accession negotiations can be identified based on the experience from past accessions.  These include: high-level political commitment; alignment of WTO accession strategies to domestic legislative and institutional reforms; efficient domestic stakeholder coordination mechanisms; focused technical work by the negotiating team; and effective use of technical assistance.

An element that can sometimes be overlooked is a supporting network that promotes the transfer of knowledge and experience. Connecting, sharing and learning from the experience of others is often instrumental for the successful conduct of accession negotiations. It is essential for acquiring knowledge of the inner workings of the WTO accession process and for preparing successful strategies for tackling negotiation challenges.  The establishment of a network of negotiators seeks to:

a. Connect accession negotiators: The presence around the Round Table of (former and current) accession negotiators and representatives of WTO Members, including Working Party Chairpersons, provides the ideal setting for establishing a professional network among experienced officials in the area of accession negotiations.

b. Share knowledge and perspectives: Dialogue and experience-sharing is a powerful tool for advancing accession negotiations. Former accession negotiators, drawn from the 36 completed Article XII accessions, are well-placed to share unique perspectives on the dynamics of the accession process.

c. Learn from past experiences: While each accession is unique, it is important for acceding governments to learn from the experience of past accessions and apply the acquired knowledge to the specific challenges of their ongoing negotiations.


Footnotes

  1. The thematic focuses of the first five China Round Tables were: “WTO Accession Best Practice” (CRT-01); “Future of the Multilateral Trading System: Perspectives of LDCS and Article XII Members” (CRT-02); “Post Accession: Maximizing the Benefits of WTO Membership and Global Economic Integration” (CRT-03); “Domestic Reforms for Competitiveness and Deeper Trade Integration in the Global Economy: African Perspectives on the Future of the Trading System” (CRT-04); and “Best Practices on the Accessions of Least developed countries to the WTO” (CRT-05). Back to text

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