Slovenia: May 2002
The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its first review of Slovenia on 13 and 15 of May 2002. The text of the Chairperson's concluding remarks is attached as a summary of the salient points which emerged during the discussion.
POLICY REVIEW BODY: REVIEW OF SLOVENIA
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 Slovenia 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 and 1999), Australia (1989, 1994 and 1998), Austria (1992), Bahrain (2000) Bangladesh (1992 and 2000), Benin (1997), Bolivia (1993 and 1999), Botswana (1998), Brazil (1992, 1996 and 2000), Brunei Darussalam (2001), Burkina Faso (1998), Cameroon (1995 and 2001), Canada (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000), Chile (1991 and 1997), Colombia (1990 and 1996), Costa Rica (1995 and 2001), Côte d’Ivoire (1995), Cyprus (1997), the Czech Republic (1996 and 2001), the Dominican Republic (1996), Egypt (1992 and 1999), El Salvador (1996), the European Communities (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2000), Fiji (1997), Finland (1992), Gabon (2001), Ghana (1992 and 2001), Guatemala (2002), Guinea (1999), Hong Kong (1990, 1994 and 1998), Hungary (1991 and 1998), Iceland (1994 and 2000), India (1993 and 1998), Indonesia (1991, 1994 and 1998), Israel (1994 and 1999), Jamaica (1998), Japan (1990, 1992, 1995,1998 and 2000), Kenya (1993 and 2000), Korea, Rep. of (1992, 1996 and 2000), Lesotho (1998), Macao (1994 and 2001), Madagascar (2001), Malawi (2002), Malaysia (1993, 1997 and 2001), Mali (1998), Mauritius (1995 and 2001), Mexico (1993, 1997 and 2002), Morocco (1989 and 1996), Mozambique (2001), New Zealand (1990 and 1996), Namibia (1998), Nicaragua (1999), Nigeria (1991 and 1998), Norway (1991, 1996 and 2000), OECS (2001), Pakistan (1995 and 2002), Papua New Guinea (1999), Paraguay (1997), Peru (1994 and 2000), the Philippines (1993 and 1999), Poland (1993 and 2000), Romania (1992 and 1999), Senegal (1994), Singapore (1992, 1996 and 2000), Slovak Republic (1995 and 2001), Slovenia (2002), the Solomon Islands (1998), South Africa (1993 and 1998), Sri Lanka (1995), Swaziland (1998), Sweden (1990 and 1994), Switzerland (1991, 1996 and 2000 (jointly with Liechtenstein)), Tanzania (2000), Thailand (1991, 1995 and 1999), Togo (1999), Trinidad and Tobago (1998), Tunisia (1994), Turkey (1994 and 1998), the United States (1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1999 and 2001), Uganda (1995 and 2001), Uruguay (1992 and 1998), Venezuela (1996), Zambia (1996) and Zimbabwe (1994).
TRADE POLICY REVIEW BODY: REVIEW OF SLOVENIA
CONCLUDING REMARKS BY THE CHAIRPERSON Back to top
This first Trade Policy Review of Slovenia has been excellent. Our discussion has been thorough and comprehensive, and has raised important trade issues. Our dialogue has provided a good understanding of Slovenia's trade-related policies and practices, not the least due to the open and full involvement of State Secretary Renata Vitez and her delegation, and to the active engagement of many delegations.
Members commended Slovenia for its good economic performance. Slovenia's trade and investment liberalization efforts have been key elements in its reform programme aimed at restoring macroeconomic stability and establishing a modern, stable, and fully functioning market economy. In consequence, Slovenia is now well integrated in the world economy through closer trade and investment links.
Members also praised Slovenia for its strong commitment to the multilateral trading system, and commended its strong support for the launching of the Doha Development Agenda. At the same time, Members noted that much of the orientation of Slovenia's economic and trade policies is driven by its goal of accession to the European Union (EU). Several Members maintaining preferential trade agreements with Slovenia commented on the positive effects of such agreements on trade and investment for Slovenia. Other Members also noted that, in general, falling trade barriers under preferential agreements have not been matched by similar improvements for MFN partners. This was a source of concern to a number of Members, who encouraged Slovenia to narrow the gap.
Several Members noted that an important gap exists between Slovenia's bound and applied tariff rates, which could undermine the predictability of the tariff regime, although Slovenia has never exploited this gap. Some Members requested Slovenia to reduce the gap between applied and bound rates in the context of the current WTO market access negotiations. There was also some concern about the escalation in the tariff.
Members commended Slovenia's various initiatives to streamline and increase transparency in many administrative areas, including customs administration. Clarifications were requested on the simplified customs procedures. Some concerns were also expressed about Slovenia's non-automatic licensing requirements related to public security, safety, health, and the environment; and to the administration of tariff quotas in agriculture.
Some Members noted that Slovenia has enacted legislation on trade remedy measures, while having made very little use of it. Several Members encouraged Slovenia to quickly complete its accession to the WTO's Government Procurement Agreement.
On sectoral policies, Members noted the increase in the level of government assistance to agriculture, and Slovenia's plans to harmonize support systems with the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. Concerns were expressed about agriculture being shielded from international competition by border measures (high tariffs and restrictive tariff quotas).
Members indicated interest in developments in telecommunications, transport, and tourism, notably with respect to foreign participation, the role of the domestic regulators, and commitments under GATS. On financial services, questions were asked about the 1992 crisis, the privatization plans and the degree of competition, particularly in the insurance sector. Several Members thought it desirable to further open services activities to private investment, observing Slovenia's positive experience with liberalization in other areas.
Members also sought further clarification on a number of specific areas, including:
structural weaknesses such as labour market rigidities, administrative obstacles, use of public resources, and plans to overcome them;
foreign direct investment (FDI) regime, incentives, and policies for becoming a springboard for doing business in south-east Europe;
privatization process, methods, and future plans, particularly for divesting some key financial and telecommunication enterprises;
safeguards legislation and its application to FTAs;
scientific approach to SPS matters;
export subsidies, and subsidy programmes that support manufacturing sectors; and
protection of intellectual property rights.
The Slovenian delegation gave written and oral replies to questions posed during the Review. The replies provided have made a major contribution to this meeting, and were clearly appreciated by all Members.
In conclusion, I believe that through this Review we have gained a first-hand appreciation of Slovenia's achievements since its independence in 1991, and of the challenges that lie ahead. Slovenia is now seen by many Members as a prime example of the benefits of trade and investment liberalization, notwithstanding a number of cyclical and structural problems. However, Slovenia's liberalization paradigm raises important questions for all WTO Members concerning the relationship between regional and multilateral efforts, questions that no doubt we will have to come to grips with as part of the Doha Development Agenda.
For Slovenia itself, an additional challenge is to manage its process of accession to the EU, its large number of preferential agreements, together with the many components of the evolving multilateral agenda. Moreover, it is possible that dealing with issues such as ownership and competition in some critical areas, such as agriculture, telecommunications, financial services, transport, and tourism, would contribute to an improved growth profile. Slovenia's exemplary participation in this Review bodes well for its capacity to meet those challenges, to the benefit of its people and its trading partners.