Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements

23 and 25 October 2002

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

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See also:
Press release: Liberalization consolidated but macroeconomic performance weak

This meeting to review Zambia's trade-related policies has been a lively one, reflecting the high degree of interest among the Members. A warm welcome was given to the Zambian delegation that contained several officials from Lusaka. Members commended Zambia on its continuing commitment to economic liberalization. They observed how difficult this had been, given the health problems, the recurrence of drought, the declining terms of trade, and high production costs. Members pointed out how serious were the difficulties in the copper industry, the backbone of the economy of Zambia, a landlocked country. Noting that the reforms had not yet borne much fruit, Members saw hope in Zambia's qualification for debt relief under the Enhanced HIPC initiative and the continued implementation of its Poverty Reduction Strategy. Good governance, improved competitiveness, economic diversification and continued structural reforms might help.

Members stressed that Zambia, like many other developing countries, was struggling with how best to integrate into the global economy. They recognized the importance of the Doha Development Agenda to Zambia, particularly in agriculture. Attention was given to Zambia's continuing need for trade-related technical assistance, with special mention of areas such as standards, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, and supply-side constraints. Although Members recognized the importance of regional integration in expanding trade, they expressed concern about Zambia's membership in several overlapping trade agreements, including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). They encouraged Zambia to take greater advantage of non-reciprocal preferential access granted by some Members.

Zambia was commended for having made a serious effort to remove WTO inconsistent measures identified during its first Trade Policy Review. Members encouraged Zambia to improve its binding commitments by increasing their coverage on non-agricultural products, and reducing the gap between bound and applied rates. Further rationalization of import taxation would reduce the widespread use of duty and tax concessions. Members sought further information about Zambia's public procurement regime, including its National Tender Board, and encouraged it to speed its membership in the Plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement.

Noting that protection of intellectual property rights could help to attract foreign direct investment, Members encouraged Zambia to fully implement its intellectual property obligations within the timeframe prescribed by the TRIPS Agreement. Zambia's struggle with health problems was pointed out as an example of the problems faced by WTO Members with insufficient or no manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical industry. Therefore, some Members urged that a decision be expeditiously reached on the compulsory licensing access to medicines.

Members noted that Zambia's renewed emphasis on developing its agriculture would contribute to poverty reduction and economic diversification. They sought clarification about Zambia's intentions to create a Crop Marketing Authority. Connected to agriculture were efforts to create manufacturing opportunities to add value to commodities locally. Members noted that residency restrictions were constraining investment, especially in the services sector and raised questions about Zambia's plans for telecommunications, broadcasting, financial services and information technology, in particular.

Members also sought clarification on several specific matters, including
mainstreaming trade into development policy, even without “Pilot Scheme” status in the Integrated Framework;
further liberalization of industrial tariffs;
export bans and controls;
contingency trade remedies;
investment regime in the mining and quarrying sector; and
agricultural policy and environmental concerns.

Members appreciated the responses provided by the delegation of Zambia during the meeting, and looked forward to later replies to some questions.

In conclusion, it is my feeling that this Trade Policy Review has highlighted the commitment of the Zambian authorities to liberalize their economy despite various difficulties. I am pleased that so many Members identified ways in which they were providing trade-related technical assistance to Zambia and their commitment to continue assisting it. Nevertheless, I feel it important to call attention to the supply-side constraints that still need to be addressed. I hope that the Doha Development Agenda will evolve in such a way as to make possible greater access for Zambia's products, and contribute to the diversification of its economy. In sum, further assistance by the international community will help Zambia to fully integrate into the multilateral trading system.