TWN Info Service
on WTO and Trade Issues (July10/05)
Goods Council takes
up STE notifications, Members' complaints
Geneva, 6 Jul (Kanaga Raja) -- A meeting of the WTO Council for Trade in Goods on Monday amongst others heard complaints from the European Union over Argentina's move to restrict food imports including from the EU since May 2010 as well as recent changes in Ecuador's tariff system concerning certain clothing items and footwear.
At its meeting, the Goods Council also approved a recommendation (G/STR/7) by the Working Party on State Trading Enterprises to extend until 30 June 2012, the current practice (of every two years) on the frequency of notification of State Trading Enterprises (STEs).
According to Working Party document G/STR/7, Article XVII: 4 of the GATT 1994, and paragraph 1 of the Understanding on the Interpretation of Article XVII of the GATT 1994 require WTO Members to notify their State Trading Enterprises to the Goods Council.
On 9 November 1962, GATT Contracting Parties adopted a decision establishing the periodicity of state trading notifications. The decision provides that new and full notifications of state trading enterprises are to be submitted every three years, with updating notifications to be submitted in the intervening years.
On 11 November 2003, the Working Party on State Trading Enterprises, which reviews state trading notifications on behalf of the Goods Council, adopted a recommendation, subsequently approved by the Goods Council on 26 November 2003, modifying the frequency of notifications on state trading enterprises to new and full notifications on a biennial basis only.
The new frequency of notifications was to be implemented for a trial phase of four years, commencing on 30 June 2004. The Working Party was directed to review the situation in respect of compliance with the new notification obligation and the frequency of notifications at the end of the four year trial phase.
The objective of the review was to determine whether to extend the application of the recommendation, either as drafted or in a modified form, for a further period or an indefinite period.
The Working Party conducted the review and observed that the period of application of the new notification requirement had been too short to provide the clarity needed to determine whether the new frequency of notifications was an improvement. It decided to extend the application of the recommendation for two additional years until 30 June 2010.
The Working Party was directed to review the situation with regard to compliance with the notification obligation and the frequency of notifications at the end of the two-year extension period. Accordingly, the Working Party conducted the review and concluded that a further two-year trial period would be desirable.
The Working Party recommended to the Goods Council that the application of the recommendation be extended for two years, and that this extension shall enter into force as of the year 2010, with a new and full notification being due by 30 June 2012.
Before the expiry of this further trial period of two years, commencing on 30 June 2010, the Working Party shall review the situation with regard to the frequency of notifications with a view to determining whether to extend the application of this recommendation, either as presently drafted or in a modified form, for a further period or for an indefinite period.
Also at the Council
meeting, the European Union (EU) voiced concerns over an internal government
According to trade officials, the EU said that the note has resulted in long delays in the granting of certificates that would enable the release of imports from the EU. According to the EU, it has had a trade-chilling effect in the form of cancellation of long-standing EU orders from Argentinean companies.
The EU further said
that it has serious questions about the consistency of the trade restrictions
with WTO rules, adding that they also go against
According to trade
officials, among those that shared the EU's concerns were
According to trade
The EU also expressed
concerns about recent changes in
According to trade
officials, the EU urged
According to trade officials, Ecuador expressed surprise that the EU would bring the matter up, as it said that it has continued to respect its tariff bindings, and that detailed information on these tariff changes are available on the Ecuador government's website.
The Chair of the Goods
Council, Ambassador Anthony Mothae Maruping of