TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct07/10)
11 October 2007
The WTO Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation held a three-day session ending Wednesday that discussed new and revised proposals on various elements relating to the group's mandate.
According to trade officials, although the original plan was to hold a week-long session beginning Monday, the meeting ended after three days.
Monday, Chairman Ambassador Eduardo Ernesto Sperisen-Yurt of
Members can also organize parallel sessions and seminars, the Chair added.
The Chair said that a concrete result was the revised proposals that emerged from the last session. "This capacity to produce tangible progress will be more crucial than ever," he said.
The mandate of the trade facilitation negotiations is "to clarify and improve relevant aspects of Articles V (Freedom of Transit), VIII (Fees and Formalities connected with Importation and Exportation) and X (Publication and Administration of Trade Regulations) of GATT 1994 with a view to further expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit".
The proposal, originally presented in July last year, calls for members to provide information and documents about specific import/export cases, if another member requests them.
changes were made because of concerns over confidentiality and excessive
burden (members routinely requesting information).
to trade officials, some members raised concerns on the judicial use
of the information collected.
The Chair's informal consultations took up issues relating to technical assistance, capacity-building and special and differential treatment (S&D) matters, as well as on Articles V, VIII and X of the GATT.
Under technical assistance, capacity building and S&D matters, discussions took place on an implementation mechanism (proposals TN/TF/W/137, 142 and 147, which have been presented before).
According to trade officials, most of the discussion focused on how to determine whether a country has managed to build capacity in order to implement a commitment.
Some countries raised the concern that some proposed S&D provisions would give way for discretionary implementation, and even give members the possibility of deferring almost all their commitments.
to trade officials,
The EC presented a paper on technical assistance and capacity building (TN/TF/W/149) that compiled all the development projects that relate to trade facilitation, both by the EC and by individual members.
All projects are demand-driven, the EC said, adding that development funding should continue to be channelled bilaterally.
According to trade officials, some delegations said that the theme should be discussed in the services negotiations (Transportation Services).
The EC said that quota regimes are legitimate for environmental and capacity restriction reasons. Other delegations indicated that they could support the proposal, but also raised some issues.
Trade officials said that members also had an opportunity to comment on proposals regarding fees and formalities, which have all been considered in past meetings of the group.
On proposal W/131, calling for the use of international standards, some members said that this would be difficult to implement by developing countries.
On proposal W/138, presenting the idea of establishing a Single Window, many members raised questions and concerns (some proposing a "best efforts" base instead of mandatory commitment).
On proposal W/144, relating to expedited shipments, some members said that some provisions would be difficult to implement.
W/114/Rev. 1 (
According to trade officials, many members praised the proponents of the proposal for having their concerns reflected in the new paper (such as possibility for multiple enquiry points).
There were also other concerns raised such as the use of WTO official languages, the need for republication of court decisions, and the extent of information to be published.
W/115/Rev. 1 (
According to trade officials, some members thanked the proponents for including "exceptions" for prior publication or consultation, but said that doubts remain on what the exceptions would be.
The next meeting of the group has been scheduled for early November.
Trade officials said that many members asked the Chair to hold informal consultations before that, particularly on the next steps with a view to accelerating the process.