Togo: January 1999
Members commended Togo on its unilateral liberalization and economic reforms. Government revenue had increased with improved revenue collection.
POLICY REVIEW BODY: REVIEW OF TOGO
TPRB'S EVALUATION Back to top
The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its first review of Togo's trade policies on 27 and 28 January 1999. The text of the Chairperson's concluding remarks is attached as a summary of the salient points which emerged during the discussion. The review enables the TRPB to conduct a collective examination of the full range of trade policies and practices of each WTO member country at regular periodic intervals to monitor significant trends and developments which may have an impact on the global trading system.
The review is based on two reports which are prepared respectively by the WTO Secretariat and the government under review and which cover all aspects of the country's trade policies, including its domestic laws and regulations, the institutional framework, bilateral, regional and other preferential agreements, the wider economic needs and the external environment. A record of the discussion and the Chairperson's summing-up together with these two reports will be published in due course as the complete trade policy review of Togo and will be available from the WTO Secretariat, Centre William Rappard, 154 rue de Lausanne, 1211 Geneva 21.
Since December 1989, the following reports have been completed: Argentina (1992 & 1999), Australia (1989, 1994 & 1998), Austria (1992), Bangladesh (1992), Benin (1997), Bolivia (1993), Botswana (1998), Brazil (1992 & 1996), Cameroon (1995), Canada (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996 & 1998), Chile (1991 & 1997), Colombia (1990 & 1996), Costa Rica (1995), Côte d'Ivoire (1995), Cyprus (1997), the Czech Republic (1996), the Dominican Republic (1996), Egypt (1992), El Salvador (1996), the European Communities (1991, 1993, 1995 & 1997), Fiji (1997), Finland (1992), Ghana (1992), Hong Kong (1990, 1994 & 1998), Hungary (1991 & 1998), Iceland (1994), India (1993 & 1998), Indonesia (1991,1994 & 1998), Israel (1994), Japan (1990, 1992, 1995 & 1998), Kenya (1993), Korea, Rep. of (1992 & 1996), Lesotho (1998), Macau (1994), Malaysia (1993 & 1997), Mauritius (1995), Mexico (1993 & 1997), Morocco (1989 & 1996), New Zealand (1990 & 1996), Namibia (1998), Nigeria (1991 & 1998), Norway (1991 & 1996), Pakistan (1995), Paraguay (1997), Peru (1994), the Philippines (1993), Poland (1993), Romania (1992), Senegal (1994), Singapore (1992 & 1996), Slovak Republic (1995), the Solomon Islands (1998), South Africa (1993 & 1998, Sri Lanka(1995),Swaziland (1998), Sweden (1990 & 1994), Switzerland (1991 & 1996), Thailand (1991 & 1995), Togo (1999), Trinidad and Tobago (1998), Tunisia (1994), Turkey (1994 & 1998), the United States (1989, 1992, 1994 & 1996), Uganda (1995), Uruguay (1992 & 1998), Venezuela (1996), Zambia (1996) and Zimbabwe (1994).
POLICY REVIEW BODY: REVIEW OF TOGO
CONCLUDING REMARKS BY THE CHAIRPERSON Back to top
The first Trade Policy Review of Togo was conducted by the TPR Body on 27 and 28 January 1999. These remarks, prepared on my own responsibility, are intended to summarize the main points of the discussion; they are not intended as a full report. Further details of the discussion will be fully reflected in the minutes.
The discussion developed under two main themes: (i) economic environment; and (ii) trade measures and sectoral policies.
Members commended Togo on its unilateral liberalization and economic reforms. Government revenue had increased with improved revenue collection. The reforms and the devaluation of the CFA franc in 1994 had resulted in high economic growth, although this contained a catch-up element given the economic slump resulting from the socio-political crisis of the early 1990s. Noting that progress in addressing the current account situation had been limited by service deficits and that export competitiveness was hampered by the high costs of utilities, under monopolist public enterprises, Members asked Togo about measures envisaged to maintain economic growth and diversify exports. They inquired about the impact of the Asian financial crisis, Asia being a destination for about one quarter of exports from Togo, and the expected effects of the WAEMU customs union, on the economy of Togo.
Noting Togo's limited WTO involvement, some Members asked how this might be remedied. They also inquired about progress on trade-related technical assistance to Togo under the Integrated Programme, and sought information on measures to adjust to any reduction of preferences resulting from multilateral liberalization.
Questions were asked about the coherence and coordination of overlapping regional agreements, especially WAEMU and ECOWAS, to which Togo was party. Some Members asked about measures being taken by Togo to guard against investment distortions, particularly with respect to export processing zones, and inquired about the impact of the WAEMU's forthcoming common investment regime. Participants also sought clarification on steps being taken to implement the WAEMU Common External Tariff (CET) in January 2000, including with respect to sensitive products, and on the way Togo intended to manage its bilateral trade agreements under the WAEMU customs union.
The representative of Togo responded that in order to maintain economic growth and diversify exports Togo was promoting non-traditional products, including processed agricultural and mineral goods; regional integration would contribute to this by increasing market access. Noting that Togo's legal environment had not contributed to the promotion of investment, she said that the planned WAEMU common investment code, and common institutional framework, would help to attract foreign direct investment. WAEMU was studying the introduction of common legislation on competition and on anti-dumping. Technical assistance, including under the Integrated Programme, was needed to improve Togo's involvement in the WTO.
In light of the impact of the Asian financial crisis on its economy, Togo intended to diversify the destinations of its exports. The current account would be improved through the liberalization of the services sector, the promotion of tourism and a better management of foreign debt. On privatization, she indicated the need for specific strategies for each public enterprise, and that a shortage of investors had delayed implementation, but that nevertheless the process was ongoing. Structural adjustment programmes and the move to the CET were preparing the economies of WAEMU members for increased competition; support from the international community was necessary. Coordination between the ECOWAS Secretariat and the WAEMU Commission contributed to avoiding inconsistencies between these two regional agreements. ECOWAS members agreed that, in the long run, it would be the only regional agreement in West Africa. Therefore, fast liberalization under WAEMU would contribute to speedier regional integration in West Africa. On preferential treatment, discussions among African ACP countries had stressed the need for ACP members to maintain their commercial position.
Trade measures and sectoral policies
Members expressed their appreciation of Togo's considerable progress in liberalizing its trade regime. Togo's import duties were among the lowest in WAEMU. There was some concern that, despite a certain simplification, the structure of border duties remained complicated; similarly, there was a certain worry about the high margins between bound and applied tariffs, and about the low level of bindings for non-agricultural products. It was pointed out that Togo's unilateral liberalization in the services sector was not reflected in its limited WTO commitments.
Members inquired about the consistency of Togo's import duties with its economic development objectives, and about the probable consequences of the introduction of the CET on activities, such as re-exportation, which were currently favoured by low tariffs. There was a certain concern about the discriminatory application of internal specific taxes, smuggling, seasonal prohibition of imports of potatoes and price approvals in the tourism branch.
Specific questions were raised regarding local content schemes, Togo's transit regime, registration and customs formalities, pre-shipment inspection, standards, and measures to liberalize the regimes for cotton, phosphates and basic services, including harbour facilities, telecommunications and financial services. Members sought clarification on the protection of intellectual property in Togo and on steps being taken to bring the Bangui Agreement into compliance with TRIPS. Togo was encouraged to sign the plurilateral Government Procurement Agreement.
In reply, the representative said that a single window had been established to simplify the formalities applicable to foreign trade and the establishment of enterprises. She took note of pertinent comments by participants on Togo's free zone regime and pointed out that pre-shipment inspection in Togo was required by the IMF. On customs valuation, she confirmed that WAEMU members would apply the "transaction-value" basis from the year 2000. She noted that the introduction of the CET would simplify the structure of border duties; it would, however, also increase tariffs on products such as "wax", sugar and milk, and she indicated that Togo and the WAEMU Commission were looking for remedies to the socio-economic consequences of the CET. She also indicated that with the introduction of the CET, the WAEMU intended to renegotiate the WTO tariff concessions of its members. The community solidarity levy (PCS) and the community levy (PC) were collected by all members on behalf of WAEMU and ECOWAS, respectively.
On smuggling, goods in transit were transported under escort of customs agents to the border of importing countries; customs administration in WAEMU member countries would be restructured for efficiency purposes. On issues such as quantitative restrictions and standards, common legislation was scheduled to be introduced within the WAEMU framework. The Bangui Agreement on intellectual property rights was being revised to bring it into conformity with TRIPS. The port of Lomé had been restored and its management was being improved. The liberalization of telecommunication services was scheduled to lead to the privatization of Togo Telecom before the year 2001, and the privatization of state-owned banks was under way.
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In conclusion, it is my feeling that Members welcomed the participation by Togo in the review process and the significant steps taken by Togo towards more open and deregulated economic and trade regimes. Members recognized the difficulties of such major adaptation, particularly given the challenges faced by Togo as a least-developed country with a small resource base, and in the wake of recent socio-political problems. They offered strong encouragement to Togo to consolidate and build on the achievements of recent years. Members were conscious that, if the policies pursued domestically are to achieve the desired results, it would be important that Togo continue to build a favourable environment for private capital, and that it would also be important for Togo to receive support at the regional level and within the multilateral trading system. Back to top