ACUERDOS COMERCIALES REGIONALES

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For the Korea-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, parties to the agreement remarked on its positive impact since it entered into force on 15 July 2016. Korea said two-way trade in the first year of the agreement amounted to $1.29 billion and that exports were complementary, with Korea exporting industrial goods while Colombia exported natural resources and agricultural products. Colombia said this was its first trade agreement with a country in Asia and that it hoped it would become a doorway to other countries in that region.

Korea and Colombia will remove tariffs on almost all goods traded between the two countries by 2034 and have made new commitments in services and investment. A number of members commended Korea and Colombia on the ambitious trade opening undertaken in the agreement, although one member noted that the transition period for implementing the agreement exceeded ten years.

The factual presentation on this RTA as well as the document compiling members’ questions and answers are available here.

For the Korea-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the factual presentation prepared by the WTO Secretariat covered only aspects of the RTA notified by the parties under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). India said the agreement has allowed job opportunities for Indian services professionals and noted that services play a "very important role" in its economy. Korea said that services trade flows had grown 30% since the agreement's entry into force and it was confident that trade and investment flows between the two countries will continue on the back of close cooperation. A WTO member said at the meeting that it looked forward to the review of the goods aspects of the agreement.

Both parties to the agreement, which entered into force on 1 January 2010, said they are currently in negotiations to "upgrade" their commitments for goods, services and investment.

The factual presentation on this RTA as well as the document compiling members’ questions and answers are available here.

The consideration of the Mexico-Panama Free Trade Agreement, previously on the agenda of the meeting, was postponed to the next CRTA meeting due to the late receipt of the parties' responses to members' questions.

As a rule, each notified RTA is considered in a single meeting under the Transparency Mechanism for RTAs which is currently provisionally applied.

Reinvigorating committee work

Seventy-four RTAs had not been notified to the WTO as of 12 September 2017. Moreover, there are currently 31 RTAs involving WTO members only plus an additional 38 RTAs involving non-members for which a factual presentation had to be prepared, counting goods and services separately. Furthermore, there are three RTAs for which the factual consideration is delayed due to a lack of comments on the draft factual presentations.

The Secretariat urged members to submit data and comments in a timely fashion to enable the committee to adhere to its work programme. Committee chair Ambassador Walid Doudech (Tunisia) said consultations had continued with parties to RTAs for which factual considerations were delayed.

The chair went on to announce his intention to hold consultations with members to follow up on paragraph 28 of the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration from 2015. Ministers had instructed the committee to discuss the systemic implication of RTAs for the multilateral trading system and their relationship to WTO rules. The ministerial declaration also called on members to work towards the transformation of the provisional Transparency Mechanism, which is used to review RTAs, into a permanent one without prejudice to questions related to notification requirements.

One delegation expressed concern over the intention to hold consultations, noting that members had yet to reach consensus on how to proceed. The chair responded that he was not prejudging the outcome of the discussions.

Next meeting

The next CRTA meeting is scheduled for 9-10 November.

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