The four regional trade agreements considered were: the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Co-operation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China (Services); the Free Trade Agreement between Switzerland and China (Goods and Services); the Free Trade Agreement between Hong Kong, China and Chile (Goods and Services); and the Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Colombia (Goods and Services).
Consideration of these agreements is based on a factual presentation prepared by the WTO Secretariat as well as written questions by WTO members and written responses from the parties in advance of the meeting.
The Chair, Ambassador Amr Ramadan (Egypt), gave a status report on the Committee's work, including early announcements of negotiations by WTO members, notifications of regional trade agreements (RTAs) from members and reports on implementation. He noted continued delays in the notifications as well as in the completion of factual presentations due to pending input from the parties involved. As of 14 September, 75 RTAs had been covered in factual presentations but had not yet been notified to the WTO.
The Secretariat also reported on the status of the preparation of factual presentations of RTAs, several of which have been delayed past the one-year timetable due to pending input from parties.
Members discussed the list of non-notified agreements and delays in the provision of data and comments to factual presentations, noting both the importance of transparency as well as resource constraints faced by members.
Despite these constraints, they acknowledged the importance of meeting their obligations under the Transparency Mechanism and remained open to further discussion on reducing the backlog of RTAs to be considered by the Committee.
The next Committee meeting will be held on 16-17 November.