22 and 24 September 2003

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

See also:
> Press release for Niger: Stabilization programme and market-oriented reforms should start bearing fruit

> Press release for Senegal: Reform and liberalization efforts improve economic performance

1. This Trade Policy Review of Niger and Senegal has allowed us all a far better understanding of their WAEMU (West African Economic and Monetary Union)-shaped trade policies, and trade-related policies and aspirations. Our dialogue has been thorough and comprehensive, stimulated by the full and open engagement of the high-level delegations, as well as the insightful comments made by the discussant.

2. Members commended Niger and Senegal for their economic stabilisation and reform efforts in recent years, mainly in the areas of public finance and investment. They noted that sustainable development and poverty alleviation as well as the integration of the informal sector into the formal economy, remains a challenge.

3. Members emphasized that trade was a tool for development and underlined the importance of the Integrated Framework and other cooperation initiatives. Niger and Senegal did not benefit fully from their WTO membership as their own resource constraints did not always allow them to identify and/or exploit opportunities. Several Members indicated that despite their direct or indirect contribution in providing technical assistance to and promoting trade with Niger and Senegal, progress in their integration into the multilateral trading system had been slow.

4. Members acknowledged efforts to simplify the tariff structure and WAEMU's impact in reducing average MFN tariff level. They noted the use of additional levies and charges as well as the use of WAMEU-agreed administered prices for customs valuation purposes. Several Members inquired about efforts to increase protection of intellectual property rights.

5. In the light of their recent macroeconomic performance, Niger and Senegal were encouraged to move ahead in implementing structural reforms, including privatization, and market and product diversification. Fiscal reforms and new sources of government revenue would be necessary to address the expected effects of further tariff liberalization and increases in health-related budgetary expenditures and poverty alleviation.

6. Members sought further clarification on:

  • investment

  • national standards

  • government procurement

  • intellectual property rights

  • national and regional agricultural and fishery policy issues

  • privatization

  • issues in financial, telecoms and tourism services

  • GATS commitments and negotiations

7. Members appreciated the extensive and comprehensive replies provided by the delegations of Niger and Senegal, and looked forward to further responses and clarifications.

8. In conclusion, I believe that through this Review we have gained a better understanding of the progress made by Niger and Senegal in recent years, and of the challenges that lie ahead. The very strong participation by both delegations in this meeting, the number of questions posed, and the active discussion, indicate the importance attached to this Review. I encourage Niger and Senegal to improve their multilateral commitments, both in goods and services, and to pursue the implementation of their reform programmes, with a view to enhancing the transparency, predictability, and credibility of their trade regimes, and adherence to the WTO principles. But let me put this into context. Both Niger and Senegal face real resource constraints: technical assistance is required from the WTO and other relevant organizations; the needs have been well identified in the Secretariat reports and must be met. In addition trading partners must help by ensuring that their markets are fully open to products from Niger and Senegal.