TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Feb12/08)
18 February 2012
Third World Network

Chair outlines plans for work on trade facilitation
Published in SUNS #7301 dated 3 February 2012

Geneva, 2 Feb (Kanaga Raja) -- The WTO Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation is to carry out its work for the first half of this year through a "facilitator-led" process, to be undertaken in two stages.

According to trade officials, the negotiating group held a meeting on 31 January to discuss a proposal by its Chair, Ambassador Eduardo Sperisen-Yurt of Guatemala, which called for "facilitator-led work" on trade facilitation for the first half of 2012.

Trade officials said that the Chair's proposal was approved by the membership only after a request by some members for more efforts to be devoted to the Special and Differential Treatment (S&D) component of the negotiations.

The work on trade facilitation for this year will be carried out in two stages: Stage I from January to mid-April; and Stage II from mid-April to July.

Two negotiating sessions of the Group, for stock-taking purposes, will be held on 16-18 April and 9-12 July.

In the meantime, said trade officials, facilitators will seek to obtain new proposed language to be incorporated into the Draft Consolidated Negotiating Text (TN/TF/W/165/Rev.11 of 7 October 2011), which they noted still contains some 800 brackets (denoting text still to be agreed).

The submission of proposed replacement texts is expected by 30 March.

According to trade officials, the list of facilitators and topics for Stage I, which will take place from February to the end of March, are as follows:

-- Mauritius (S&D);

-- Hong Kong-China (Publication and availability of information; Prior publication and consultation);

-- India (Other measures to enhance impartiality, non-discrimination and transparency);

-- Chile (Pre-arrival processing; Establishment and publication of average release times);

-- Australia (Expedited shipments);

-- Malaysia (Review of formalities and documentation), Reduction (Limitation of formalities and documentation requirements); and

-- Turkey (Customs cooperation).

Trade officials said that the facilitators and topics for Stage II are expected to be decided later.+