TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (May09/08)
26 May 2009
Third World Network

WTO approves waiver extension on treatment of LDC products
Published in SUNS #6700 dated 14 May 2009 

Geneva, 13 May (Kanaga Raja) -- The WTO Council for Trade in Goods on Tuesday approved a 10-year extension to a WTO waiver allowing developing countries to provide preferential treatment to the products of least developed countries (LDCs) without being required to extend the same tariff treatment to other members.

According to trade officials, the decision now goes to the General Council for adoption.

Brazil, China, India and Korea proposed the extension of the waiver, which was set to expire on 30 June 2009.

According to trade officials, India, speaking on behalf of the sponsors of the proposal, said that "over the last few years developing countries have been finding means within their own developmental imperatives to meet the requirements of the LDCs and grant them meaningful concessions... given the right environment and enabling provisions, the developing countries can be encouraged to enhance their efforts."

Tanzania said that the LDC Group had been "very much inspired by the goodwill shown by the membership in approving the extension."

Also at the Council meeting, Turkey presented an updated version of its compilation of recent research of main trends after the phase-out of quantitative restrictions in the textiles sector.

According to trade officials, the paper proposed that the WTO take a coordinating role in overcoming economic difficulties encountered by developing countries in the post-quota period.

Turkey suggested a detailed discussion of the paper at the next meeting of the Goods Council, scheduled for 29 June.

Jordan, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Mauritius and Morocco expressed support for Turkey's paper.

On the other hand, China, Pakistan, India, Korea and Hong Kong-China voiced concern that the paper might be aimed at reversing trade liberalization. They stressed that it would never enjoy consensus in the Council.

The Chair, Ambassador Elin Ostebo Johansen of Norway, said that it was clear that members were far from an agreement on this issue, with some wanting it to remain on the agenda and some others wanting to take it off the agenda.

She urged interested delegations to meet among themselves to find a way forward.

According to trade officials, the Council agreed to revert to this item at the next meeting, but that if the discussions remained inconclusive, this agenda item would be suspended. +