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Guinea : February 1999

“ GDP growth of almost 5% a year in recent years. Inflation had been contained and the trade account was improving.”

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First press release
Summary of Secretariat report
  > Summary of Government report

26 February 1999

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The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its first review of Guinea's trade policies on 25 and 26 February 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 Guinea 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), C˘te 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), Guinea (1999), 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).


The first Trade Policy Review of Guinea was conducted by the TPR Body on 25 and 26 February 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.

Economic environment

Members commended Guinea on its unilateral liberalization and economic reforms that had resulted in sustained GDP growth of almost 5% a year in recent years. Inflation had been contained and the trade account was improving. Noting that progress in addressing the current account situation had been limited by service deficits, and that export competitiveness was hampered by high costs of utilities, negative tariff escalation and high taxation of petroleum products, Members asked about measures envisaged by Guinea to maintain economic growth, diversify exports, promote the development of the private sector, improve external competitiveness, and combat corruption. They sought clarification on the link between Guinea's long-term development strategy (Guinea, Vision 2010) and the ongoing economic reforms.

Noting Guinea's limited WTO involvement, participants inquired about how this might be remedied, about progress on trade-related technical assistance under the Integrated Programme, and about measures to adjust to any reduction of preferences resulting from multilateral liberalization. Clarification was sought on the current status of implementation of competition legislation and privatization programmes, on exchange arrangements, and on restrictions on foreign direct investment. Some Members asked about Guinea's position with respect to regional agreements and integration in West Africa.

The representative of Guinea responded that continued economic and trade reforms, including tariff rationalization, would contribute to maintaining economic growth; but in this respect the impact of the refugee situation could not be ignored. Trade activities had been liberalized, a support center (the Center for Export Formalities (CAFEX)) and the Framework Project for the Promotion of Agricultural Exports (PCPEA) established, export taxes abolished, and tariff concessions granted, with a view to promoting and diversifying exports, and regaining Guinea's former market shares. The Garafiri dam was being constructed, with financing from the local population and the donor community, to increase Guinea's self-sufficiency in energy, and public investment was contributing to the development of infrastructure. Privatization of public enterprises, liberalization of supply of basic services and the establishment of industrial zones were also under way. These measures, combined with statutory and institutional reforms, would attract foreign investment. He noted that macroeconomic forecasts under Guinea, Vision 2010 were reliant on the successful implementation of structural adjustment.

The representative reiterated Guinea's need for technical assistance, which would also improve its WTO involvement; future amendments to Guinea's tariff would comply with its multilateral commitments. On preferential treatment, Guinea, like other African ACP countries, stressed the need that its commercial position be maintained. Guinea relied on its comparative advantages to increase its market access in WAEMU; future amendments to legislation and tariffs would take into account similar reform in WAEMU. He noted that Guinea's trade account had been in surplus in 1998, due to an increase in mineral and agricultural exports. He also stressed that corruption difficulties were being resolutely addressed.

Trade measures and sectoral policies

Members acknowledged Guinea's significant progress in liberalizing its trade regime. Applied tariffs on industrial products were around 15%. However, there was some concern that: the structure of border duties remained complex; import duties on almost all non-agricultural products were unbound; there were high margins between bound and applied tariffs; the applied DFE rates on rice, flour and vegetable oil were higher than the bound rates; Guinea's tariff displayed negative escalation; the application of the consumption surcharge was discriminatory; and that seasonal quantitative restrictions were maintained on potatoes. Members also asked about plans to review the fee structure for pre-shipment inspection.

Specific questions were raised regarding Guinea's schedule for adopting a "transaction-value" basis for custom's valuation; local content schemes; standards; measures to promote exports; the rationale for export taxation; participation of the private sector in the analysis of trade problems; workers representation in the ILO Conference; and the use of data contained in the Secretariat report for IDB purposes. Some Members sought clarification on restrictions affecting certain services activities. Information was also sought on plans for further privatization and liberalization of various sectors of the economy, including agriculture, mining and services, and on exploiting Guinea's agricultural potential. Questions arose on Guinea's intentions regarding its limited WTO commitments in services, especially financial services and telecommunications.

Members asked about protection of intellectual property rights in Guinea, including the role of the Guinean Association for the Promotion of Invention and Innovation (AGUIPA), and about steps being taken to bring the Bangui Agreement into compliance with TRIPS. Guinea was encouraged to open its government-procurement market to all suppliers.

In reply, the representative of Guinea noted that pre-shipment inspection had been launched in 1996 with a view to improving duty collection; provisions of the contract between SGS and Guinea might be amended. The ongoing amendments to tariff were largely being based on the WAEMU Common External Tariff and would simplify the structure of Guinea's import duties. Publication of the Secretariat report meant that the data it contained could be used for IDB purposes. The private sector participated in the national analysis of trade and related policies. The representative noted that Guinea needed technical assistance to collect trade data and to implement Guinea's standards-certification system. He noted that the seasonal prohibition of imports of potatoes had been abandoned. On local content schemes, he said that Guinea would comply with its WTO obligations. The government procurement Act was being revised. In Guinea, workers' associations were privately run. The Bangui Agreement on intellectual property rights was being revised to bring it into conformity with TRIPS.

The devaluation of the Guinean franc, liberalization reforms, private investment and the dismantling of controls on producer prices had contributed to an increased agricultural production; food security was the major objective of agricultural policies in Guinea. Major policy objectives in the mining sector included the restructuring of companies, the adoption of an institutional and juridical framework, and the construction of infrastructure. The services sector was liberalized. However, the lack of investment, including FDI, delayed the privatization of companies such as Air Guinea and SOGETRAC. Guinea needed technical assistance to improve its multilateral commitments in trade in services.

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In conclusion, it is my strong feeling that Members welcomed the participation by Guinea in the review process and expressed their appreciation for significant steps taken by Guinea towards a more outward-oriented, market-driven economy, with social development a priority. Members recognized the difficulties inherent to such a significant economic adaptation, particularly given the challenges faced by Guinea as a least-developed country, with a formerly centralized planned-economy system. They strongly encouraged Guinea to consolidate and build on the achievements of recent years. Members were also very conscious that, if the policies pursued domestically are to achieve the desired results, it would be important that Guinea continue to build a favourable environment for private capital and that it receive support at the regional level and within the multilateral trading system.