14 and 16 February 2006

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

See also:
> Press release: Diversification of production and trade is essential for balanced development

1. I should like to thank all participants in this very informative first Trade Policy Review of Angola. The high level of the delegation from Luanda, led by the Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister, was an important sign of the seriousness with which Angola has treated the review process. The reports by Angola and the Secretariat, and the responses of the Angolan delegation to the searching questions by Members and our Discussant, Mr Postma, have made a significant contribution to knowledge of Angola's economy and of its trade and development policies.

2. Members recognized that, following the end of the civil war in 2002, Angola had made great strides in stabilizing its economy and promoting growth of GDP. However, the economy was still highly dualistic, and many challenges remain in redeveloping the non-mineral sectors and ensuring that the benefits of growth and development are spread throughout the economy. Members welcomed the extensive and ongoing updating and liberalization of Angola's trade and investment legislation. However, they raised issues relating to transparency in various areas of law and economic policies, including the use of oil revenue; to the Government's capacity to implement the large volume of new legislation; and to technical assistance required and made available.

3. Members appreciated Angola's growing participation in the WTO system, including the Doha Development Agenda. They encouraged Angola to participate more actively in the goods and services negotiations, including binding of tariffs at applied rates and presenting offers in the field of services. Members also noted that, while currently Angola applied MFN treatment to all suppliers, it was increasingly involved in regional and inter-regional trade agreements. They discussed the effects of such agreements on Angola's trade policies and practices, and encouraged Angola to consider the balance that may be struck between regional, bilateral and multilateral trading links.

4. Members recognized that, as part of its reconstruction process, Angola was currently applying an import-substitution model of trade policies, and stressed that this would not necessarily be a viable model in the longer term. At the same time, they congratulated Angola for progress in its Customs reform, including the forthcoming adoption of WTO customs valuation methods. They welcomed the new tariff structure and the reductions recently made, while recalling that there was still considerable tariff escalation and that significant gaps between bound and applied rates and a wide range of tariff-distorting exemptions remained. They encouraged Angola to bring other duties and charges into line with its WTO binding commitments, and emphasised the need for greater transparency and openness in some areas, notably Government and parastatal procurement, as incentives for greater foreign investment and trade.

5. Members welcomed Angola's efforts to revitalize the non-mineral based sectors of its economy, through programmes for agricultural and manufacturing development and the increasing liberalization of many services sectors, including finance and telecommunications.

6. Members sought clarification on a number of issues, including: sustainable development strategies and the role of trade; environmental issues; phasing out of preshipment inspection; penalty tariffs; development of standards and technical regulations; elimination of subsidies and price controls; new legislation regarding intellectual property rights; policy regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs); prudential regulation in the financial sector; and policies relating to energy-related, postal and courier, and transport services.

7. Members expressed their appreciation for the responses to their questions as provided by the Angolan delegation and looked forward to further clarifications promised by the delegation.

8. In conclusion, Members welcome the significant progress made by Angola in economic and trade policy reforms, and at the same time recognize the many challenges faced by Angola in reconstructing its economy. They encourage Angola to give trade a central role in its development strategy, particularly in revitalizing the non-oil sectors of the economy, and to avoid inward-looking trade policies as a long term solution.

9. Members also welcome the requests made by Angola for technical assistance on a bilateral basis, from the WTO, and in the context of the Integrated Framework for Trade-related Technical Assistance, and urge the agencies concerned to respond urgently to these requests.