Trade Policy Review: Angola
The second Trade Policy Review of Angola has provided us with a good opportunity to assess the evolution of its socio-economic, trade and investment policies since its last Review in 2006; we now have a better understanding of the challenges Angola is facing. The review has benefitted from the constructive and informative participation of the large Angolan delegation, headed by H.E. Dr. Rosa ESCÓRCIO PACAVIRA DE MATOS, Minister of Trade; the insightful comments by the discussant, H.E. Ambassador Xavier CARIM, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the WTO; and the numerous enriching interventions by Members. Members appreciated Angola’s responses to some 130 advance written questions, and look forward to answers to any outstanding questions no later than one month after this meeting.
Members commended Angola on its impressive recovery from its civil war and on its economic performance that has put it on track to graduate from LDC status. Economic growth has been supported by significant public investment in infrastructure (including utilities) and by high world prices for its main exports, crude oil and to a lesser extent diamonds. However, growth has slowed down since 2009 due to a less favourable international environment. Accordingly, Members enquired about the expected negative impact of the recent drop in international oil prices on social and economic performance indicators, and about the steps being taken to address it.
Noting that Angola’s dependence on oil renders its economy highly vulnerable to external shocks, Members encouraged it to continue with its diversification efforts by identifying sectors of promising growth. On the business environment, Members praised Angola for the steps already taken but expressed concerns about its restrictions on payment transfers, its visa issuance system, and its opaque regulatory and investment procedures. They also enquired about Angola’s plans to establish a one-stop shop for administrative procedures.
Members commended Angola on its active participation in the WTO. They sought details about Angola’s involvement in various bilateral and regional trade liberalization initiatives. The recent adoption of several trade facilitation measures by Angola, including the elimination of pre-shipment inspection and the revamp of fiscal administrations, was generally welcomed. Members encouraged Angola to submit its Category A notification and ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement. Members also urged Angola to submit other outstanding notifications on, inter alia, SPS, TBT, subsidies and state-trading enterprises, with a view to further improving transparency. Some Members pointed out that technical assistance may be beneficial for Angola to better implement the WTO Agreements.
Members noted that Angola had also implemented a number of measures aimed at import substitution. Its applied tariff rates have been significantly increased and range from 2% to 50%, with a simple average of 10.9% (up from 7.4% in 2005). Members urged Angola to rectify the instances where applied tariff rates and other duties and charges exceed the corresponding bound levels. Several Members invited Angola to clarify the status of its recent Decree on import quotas, which is yet to be implemented. In lieu of import substitution, Members suggested that Angola reduce production costs through lower import tariffs on inputs and further trade facilitation measures with a view to enhancing competitiveness and promoting local production.
Members welcomed Angola’s new mining code and sought information about opportunities for foreign operators. Clarifications were sought about Angola’s agricultural policy aiming at food security and about the sustainability of its fisheries sector. Some participants enquired Angola’s plans to broaden its GATS commitments beyond its three existing sectors. Members were also interested in the Government’s priorities regarding, inter alia, competition policy, SPS and TBT regimes, and state-trading and state-owned enterprises. Noting that Angola’s intellectual property regime had not been substantially updated since 1992, Members urged the country to effectively implement the TRIPS Agreement and to broaden its participation in international conventions on intellectual property.
This second Review of Angola’s trade policies and practices is timely. I am certain that Angola will take into account the results of this Review to further develop its economic and trade policies with a view to enhancing competitiveness and addressing current difficulties and future challenges. The large number of advance written questions and of delegations that took the floor during our two days of discussions highlight the interest Members attach to Angola’s trade and related policies. I urge all Members to strengthen their support to Angola’s development and reform efforts.
In closing, I would like to thank Minister Rosa ESCÓRCIO PACAVIRA DE MATOS and the rest of the delegation from Luanda, Ambassador Xavier CARIM as discussant, the Members, the Secretariat, and the interpreters for their contributions to the second Trade Policy Review of Angola.