Nicaragua: November 1999
We have had very open and informative discussions on Nicaragua's trade regime, aided by the very constructive engagement of Minister Sacasa and his delegation. To me this has been emblematic of Nicaragua's belief in open trade, with the WTO as its pillar. Nicaragua is rebuilding its economy, toward a market-oriented system and a liberal trading environment, with an updated legal framework, including, in particular, modern, clear and stable rules for economic operators and private investors...
POLICY REVIEW BODY: REVIEW OF NICARAGUA
TPRB'S EVALUATION Back to top
The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its review of Nicaragua's trade policies on 25 and 27 October 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 TPRB to conduct a collective examination of the full range of trade policies and practices of each WTO member countries 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 Nicaragua 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 & 1999), Botswana (1998), Brazil (1992 & 1996), Burkina Faso (1998), 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 & 1999), 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 & 1999), Jamaica (1998), Japan (1990, 1992, 1995 & 1998), Kenya (1993), Korea, Rep. of (1992 & 1996), Lesotho (1998), Macau (1994), Malaysia (1993 & 1997), Mali (1998), Mauritius (1995), Mexico (1993 & 1997), Morocco (1989 & 1996), New Zealand (1990 & 1996), Namibia (1998), Nicaragua (1999), Nigeria (1991 & 1998), Norway (1991 & 1996), Pakistan (1995), Paraguay (1997), Peru (1994), the Philippines (1993 & 1999), Poland (1993), Romania (1992 & 1999), 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 & 1999), Uganda (1995), Uruguay (1992 & 1998), Venezuela (1996), Zambia (1996) and Zimbabwe (1994).
POLICY REVIEW BODY: REVIEW OF NICARAGUA
CONCLUDING REMARKS BY THE CHAIRPERSON Back to top
We have had very open and informative discussions on Nicaragua's trade regime, aided by the very constructive engagement of Minister Sacasa and his delegation. To me this has been emblematic of Nicaragua's belief in open trade, with the WTO as its pillar. Nicaragua is rebuilding its economy, toward a market-oriented system and a liberal trading environment, with an updated legal framework, including, in particular, modern, clear and stable rules for economic operators and private investors. This transformation has adjustment costs: there is also a need for poverty alleviation and social progress. I think we have come to see that sustained effort in all these respects would be greatly assisted by access to markets, a point made clearly by Minister Sacasa.
Our discussions have allowed Members to appreciate both the scale of Nicaragua's economic recovery and the contribution to that recovery of trade policy reforms to date. Nicaragua undertook unilateral tariff reductions and its tariff commitments in the Uruguay Round were comprehensive. These were followed by the ratification of expanded WTO commitments on financial services. Nicaragua has eliminated import restrictions and not taken trade defence measures under the multilateral trade agreements. Members have also heard that implementation of commitments is not always obvious and that technical assistance would be useful. More generally, I think we have all taken note of the difficulties caused by natural disasters, notably El Ni˝o and hurricane Mitch, and of Nicaragua's very high level of external indebtedness, which have compounded the adjustment difficulties.
Members also acknowledge that foreign assistance has been, and continues to be, essential to the ongoing process of economic and social recovery as well as to meeting public and current account financing requirements. The results of the macroeconomic stabilization and structural reforms were greatly appreciated by Members, while support was expressed for Nicaragua's qualification as a beneficiary of the HIPC initiative. Sound governance and transparency were prerequisites for attracting foreign investment.
In addition to these general points, Members were grateful for the comprehensive and well structured explanation given by the Nicaraguan delegation on many specific points, including:
measures to cope with the current account deficit;
privatization process, in particular in the telecommunications, electricity and transport sectors, and progress in resolving property rights/claims;
strategy for attracting private investment;
WTO notification of regional trade agreements, the convergence to a common external tariff within the CACM and the vision toward further regional integration;
the gap between average applied and bound tariff rates;
elimination of import prohibitions;
status of new legislation on customs valuation, SPS measures, and government procurement;
re-introduction of price bands;
elaboration of domestic standards;
timing of compliance with customs valuation and TRIPs obligations;
competition policy and consumer defense;
plans on support to agriculture (subsidies, marketing);