27 February and 1 March 2006

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

See also:
> Press release: Progress has been made in stabilizing the economy; further reforms would help diversification

1. This first Trade Policy Review of Djibouti has been both thorough and informative; it has allowed a better understanding of Djibouti's trade policies and practices, and of their outlook. We owe this to the presence of a high-level delegation of Djibouti, led by H.E. Mr. Rifki Abdoulkader Bamakhrama, Minister of Trade and Industry, to the very incisive comments by our discussant, Ambassador Samuel Amehou, and to the active involvement of Members.

2. Members acknowledged Djibouti's reform efforts, and emphasized the contribution of port activities to its recent economic performance. They encouraged Djibouti to pursue its reforms, in particular to further reduce state intervention in the economy, address its supply-side constraints and rationalize its trade regime, with a view to diversifying its economy and further benefiting from its membership of the WTO. Referring to Djibouti's recent experience with the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) process under the Integrated Framework, Members encouraged Djibouti to mainstream trade into its development and poverty reduction strategies. Questions were posed about Djibouti's further integration into regional groupings, including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and about its planned strategies to fully exploit trade preferences available to it.

3. Members commended Djibouti for having bound all its tariff lines and for its ongoing customs reforms. However, they expressed concerns about the lack of transparency in its internal consumption tax (TIC) system: considered as a tariff, the TIC rates carried by some tariff lines could be seen as exceeding Djibouti's bindings; otherwise, the exemption of most domestic production from the TIC could lead to concerns about compliance with the WTO principle of national treatment. Members urged Djibouti to implement the WTO Customs Valuation Agreement, and to take steps to reform its taxation system and to meet the notification requirements under the WTO Agreements. Further information was sought about Djibouti's government procurement regime, the scope of activities allowed in its free zones, and about the codes on investments and on commerce under preparation. Referring to a recent declaration by the Government of Djibouti, a Member noted that implementation of any restriction not in conformity with WTO rules could result in a problem.

4. Members also sought clarification on other issues, notably: agriculture; mining and energy; services; standards and technical regulations; investment incentives; protection of intellectual property rights; and technical assistance needs.

5. Members appreciated the responses provided by the Djibouti delegation.

6. In conclusion, Members value Djibouti's efforts and its commitment to improving its business environment, with a view to fully exploiting its comparative advantages. A business friendly environment, combined with the full enforcement of the WTO Agreements by Djibouti and the improvement of its multilateral commitments on good and services, will enhance the transparency and predictability of its trade regime, and contribute to attracting the foreign direct investment needed for the diversification of its economy. I am pleased that many Members identified ways in which they were assisting Djibouti and have committed to continue doing so. I urge both the WTO Membership and the Secretariat to be receptive to Djibouti's needs of trade-related technical assistance, which, together with its reforms, would help it to fully integrate into the multilateral trading system.