TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Sept14/05)
25 September 2014
Third World Network  

WTO TF PrepCom to meet on 29 September
Published in SUNS #7872 dated 10 September 2014

Geneva, 9 Sep (Kanaga Raja) -- The Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation (PCTF) is to hold its next meeting on 29 September, the first time that it will be meeting since the World Trade Organisation (WTO) missed the 31 July midnight deadline' for the adoption of the Protocol of Amendment.

The Protocol of Amendment was meant to insert the Trade Facilitation Agreement

(TFA) into Annex 1A of the WTO Agreement.

If it had been adopted, the Protocol would have been open for acceptance until 31 July 2015 and made effective when a two-thirds majority was obtained.

A meeting of the General Council was held on 25 July to discuss the TFA but was suspended in the evening on account of lack of consensus on the Protocol of Amendment.

In their interventions at that meeting, concerns were voiced by many developing countries about the lack in their view of forward movement on issues of importance to them in the context of the Bali package.

India had made a strong statement at that meeting wherein it said that it was of the view that the TFA must be implemented only as part of a single undertaking including the permanent solution on food security.

"In order to fully understand and address the concerns of Members, my delegation is of the view that the adoption of the TF Protocol be postponed till a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security is found. In this context, we have suggested a modification to the Protocol in the PrepCom. We stand by that proposal," the Indian Ambassador, Mrs. Anjali Prasad, had said.

India had received support from Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela, who had said that they will have difficulty joining a consensus on the Protocol while no progress has been made on the areas of interest to developing countries.

Just a couple of hours or so before the 31 July midnight deadline was to pass, an informal Heads of Delegation meeting was convened by WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, and this immediately reverted to an informal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC).

Briefing Members on the state of play since the suspension of the General Council on 25 July, the D-G, in his capacity as TNC Chair, had reported that at present "there is no workable solution on the table" and that he did not have any indication that one will be forthcoming.

The D-G had went on to indicate that the missing of the deadline would result in the General Council agenda item of report by the Chairman of the Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation to be closed without further action and that the General Council meeting, suspended on 25 July, to be formally closed without a protocol being adopted (see SUNS #7856 dated 4 August 2014).

According to trade officials, the formal part of the meeting of the Preparatory Committee on 29 September will focus on the 32 new notifications of Category A commitments by developing countries received by the WTO since the last PrepCom meeting.

(Category A contains provisions that a developing country Member or a least developed country Member designates for implementation upon entry into force of the TFA, or in the case of a least developed country Member, within one year after entry into force.)

According to trade officials, to date, Mauritius, Nicaragua, China, Chinese Taipei, Paraguay, Singapore, Colombia, Hong Kong-China, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Republic of Korea have submitted their Category A notifications.

The informal part of the Preparatory Committee meeting on 29 September will "take stock of Members' positions and exchange views on the way ahead," said trade officials. +