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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct13/13)
25 October 2013
Third World Network

LDCs table draft decision on services waiver
Published in SUNS #7678 dated 21 October 2013

Geneva, 18 Oct (Kanaga Raja) -- The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) group at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has tabled a draft decision for Bali on the operationalisation of the waiver concerning preferential treatment to services and service suppliers of the LDCs.
 
The Draft Decision has been put forward by Nepal, on behalf of the LDC Group, for consideration as part of the outcome of the Bali Ministerial Conference (3-6 December 2013).
 
The Draft Decision, amongst others, proposes that the operationalisation of the services waiver be a standing item on the agenda of the Council for Trade in Services, and that an annual review be undertaken to assess the status of operationalising the waiver.
 
It also proposes that the General Council convene a Signaling Conference in July 2014, with a view "to accelerating the process of securing meaningful preferences for LDC services and service suppliers and to fully operationalize the waiver".
 
In the preamble, the Draft Decision proposes, amongst others, that the Ministerial Conference reaffirm that the waiver granted by Members to provide preferential treatment to services and service suppliers of least-developed countries (WT/L/847) constitutes an important positive effort to help increase the participation of LDCs in world services trade, and note that WTO Members are yet to make use of the Waiver since its adoption in 2011.
 
According to the Draft Decision, highlighted in a communication by Nepal dated
11 October, the Ministerial Conference decides as follows:
 
"1. Members commit themselves to take expeditious and effective measures to operationalize the waiver;
 
"2. Following this Ministerial Conference, the Council for Trade in Services is instructed to initiate a process to find ways and means of operationalizing the services waiver;
 
"3. Operationalization of the services waiver shall be a standing item on the agenda of the Council for Trade in Services where Members shall provide information on steps taken to offer commercially-meaningful preferences to LDC services and service suppliers;
 
"4. An annual review shall be undertaken to assess the status of operationalizing the waiver. We urge developed-country Members, and developing-country Members in a position to do so, to submit annual reports as part of this review, which will outline steps taken to operationalize the waiver as part of an annual review conducted under the auspices of the Council for Trade in Services. Emanating from the annual review, the CTS may make concrete recommendations on further steps that could be taken towards enhancing the operationalization of waiver;
 
"5. With a view to accelerating the process of securing meaningful preferences for LDC services and service suppliers and to fully operationalize the waiver, the General Council shall convene a Signaling Conference in July 2014. The convening of this conference will be based on a request from LDCs, highlighting concrete options for commercially meaningful preferences in sectors and modes of supply of export interest to LDC services and service suppliers. At the conference, developed-country Members, and developing-country Members declaring themselves in a position to do so, shall indicate sectors and modes of supply where they intend to provide preferential treatment;
 
"6. Notwithstanding the above process, Members are encouraged to pro-actively extend at their earliest convenience meaningful preferences for LDCs services and service suppliers which have commercial value and promote economic benefits to LDCs. In doing so, Members shall consider, inter alia, the following options whenever possible:
 
"a. Extend to all LDCs preferences covered by MFN exemptions listed under the Annex on Article II Exemptions;
 
"b. Extend to all LDCs any relevant commitments undertaken in the context of preferential trade agreements to which they are a party;
 
"c. Eliminate or reduce for LDC services and service suppliers remaining market access limitations in sectors scheduled under the GATS, including through the elimination of economic needs tests and other quantitative limitations;
 
"d. Lower, and ideally remove, other market access barriers, domestic regulatory and administrative barriers and other relevant measures that may impede current or potential LDC services exports.
 
"7. Recognizing the importance of overcoming LDC supply-side constraints as an essential complement to the granting of preferences, we urge all donors and relevant international institutions to increase financial and technical support aimed at overcoming these constraints in trade in services. This includes through appropriate delivery mechanisms such as, inter alia, the Enhanced Integrated Framework and the Aid for Trade Initiative."

 


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