3 and 5 July 2006

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

See also:
> Press release: Socio-political stability and ambitious reforms could improve economic performance

1.     This second Trade Policy Review of Togo has revealed its reform efforts since its first review in 1999, and the challenges it faces, as a least-developed country, in participating in the multilateral trading system. Our discussions have benefited greatly from the full engagement of the delegation of Togo, led by H.E. Mr. Jean-Lucien Savi de Tove, Minister of Trade, Industry and Handcraft, insightful contributions by the discussant, Mr. Gunther Sleeuwagen, and comments by participants.

2.     Members congratulated Togo on its reform efforts, in particular the advance of its privatization programme. Nevertheless, the privatizations of the flagship phosphate and electricity companies were reversed. Subsequently, cement overtook phosphate as Togo's leading export. Despite rising volumes, cotton export receipts have been adversely affected in recent years by weak world prices, as well as the appreciation of the euro. Because of socio-political turmoil, the business environment has not been sufficiently compelling to attract significant investment. These factors, together with the suspension of foreign aid (on which Togo is heavily dependent), and the high costs of inputs (including petroleum products), have led to sluggish economic growth, causing per capita income to decline and poverty to become more significant.

3.     Members commended Togo on the trade liberalization that has taken place in the context of the establishment of the Common External Tariff of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). They sought information on the full establishment of the free-trade area component of both WAEMU and the wider Economic Community of West African States, as well as on the plan for their merger. Members enquired about Togo's use of the trade preferences available to it, and about its current and future participation in bilateral trade agreements. They encouraged Togo to further integrate its trade policy into its overall economic policy for the purposes of further exploitation of its comparative advantages (the deep-water port of Lomé, substantial reserves of phosphates, and significant cotton-producing capacity); sustainable development; and reduction of poverty and unemployment.

4.     Noting that, in addition to customs tariffs, various other duties and charges also apply to imports, Members enquired about the conformity of the value-based inspection and verification charge with Article VIII of GATT 1994, and of the special tax on beverages with Article III. They encouraged Togo to improve its multilateral commitments by reducing bound tariff rates, and enlarging the coverage of its commitments on goods and services. Members also sought clarification on a number of issues, notably: customs procedures and valuation, and the transit regime; TBT and SPS measures; export processing zone and investment regimes; public procurement; protection of intellectual property rights; agriculture (food security and foreign exchange earnings); and tourism, financial and telecommunications services.

5.     Members appreciated the responses provided by the delegation of Togo.

6.     In conclusion, I congratulate Togo on its liberalization efforts, and encourage it to pursue its reforms and its agenda for political changes. The reforms, together with socio-political stability, should enable Togo's access to debt-reduction initiatives, liberate resources for the purpose of poverty reduction, and enhance the confidence of and support by development partners, including through trade-related technical assistance. Such assistance would have a significant role in sustaining the momentum of the reforms and strengthening Togo’s adherence to WTO principles as well as its ability to participate in the WTO, notably the Doha Development Agenda.