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LDCs request extension of transitional period for TRIPS obligations related to pharmaceutical products

The 34 LDC members of the WTO have requested to extend the transitional period under article 66.1 of the TRIPS agreement vis-à-vis pharmaceutical products. This extension would exempt LDCs from obligations to protect and enforce pharmaceutical patents and clinical data beyond 31 December 2015. The LDCs ask to extend the deadline indefinitely for LDCs, implying that countries will have to implement the respective provisions as soon as they are no longer classified as LDC. The request was put forward by Bangladesh, the new coordinator for LDCs in the WTO, at a meeting of the Intellectual Property Council held on 24 and 25 February 2015. Sources: WTO 1 , 2 IP-watch

WTO Director General discusses progress in implementation of LDC related decisions in Bali package

At the LDC Group retreat in Montreux, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo talked about the progress made in the implementation of the LDC related Bali decisions, covering DFQF market access, RoO and the Services Waiver. In Bali, developed countries and developing countries in a position to do so were encouraged to grant LDCs DFQF market access. Most of the developed countries already have a preferential scheme in place, granting LDCs duty free market access for at least 97 % of the tariff lines. Several emerging markets, such as China, India and Chile are also eliminating tariffs for LDC imports. This is an important trend, since emerging markets are gaining in importance as...

Bangladesh new coordinator for LDCs in WTO

Bangladesh was appointed as coordinator for the LDCs in the WTO during a meeting of the LDC Consultative Group held on 19 February. The country will hold the position for one year. Bangladesh has been coordinator for the LDCs several times, the first time in 1996. Sources: The Financial Express

WTO members respond to LDC services waiver request

During a high-level meeting on 5 February 2014, several WTO members have formulated responses to the collective request made by the LDC group for preferential treatment of LDC services exports. Three years ago, WTO member states agreed to extend the enabling clause principles to services for LDCs via a services waiver. In other words, it became possible to unilaterally grant LDCs preferential treatment for services and service suppliers. At the Bali Ministerial conference in December 2013, a roadmap was drafted to speed up implementation of the services waiver. LDCs agreed to make a collective request, which was submitted in July 2014, asking preferential treatment for certain...

Entering into force of Trade Facilitation Agreement is moving closer

In November 2014, the General Council of the WTO decided to amend the Agreement Establishing the WTO by issuing a Protocol to integrate the Trade Facilitation Agreement into the WTO’s legal framework. According to the Protocol, the Agreement on Trade Facilitation (ATF) will be an integral part of Annex 1A Of the Agreement Establishing the WTO. Annex 1A contains legal texts such as the GATT 1994, the Agreement on Agriculture, Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, etc. According to the Protocol, the ATF will be inserted after the Agreement on Safeguards, upon entry into force of the Protocol. The Protocol is open for acceptance by Members and will enter into force after two...

G20 Aid for Trade commitments to LDCs increase after 2011-2012 setback

The Aid for Trade commitments to LDCs from G20 member states has increased substantially, reversing the negative trend that characterized the commitments in 2011 and 2012. The commitments for 2013, accounting for 9297 million USD, even surpassed the pre-2011 level with 2432 million USD. Loans are responsible for the largest part of the increase, rising from 616 million USD in 2012 to 3357 in 2013. Grants on the other hand, saw a less steep increase. When looking at the loans/grants ratio, it becomes clear that LDCs traditionally received a larger amount of the Aid for Trade from G20 members in the form of grants, with loans only accounting for about a quarter or less. However, LDCs...

New research paper on TRIPS transition period

The South Centre has issued a research paper on the implications of TRIPS transition period for LDC members of the East African Community (EAC). The paper, authored by Nirmalya Syam, analyzes the challenges for domestic production of medicines in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the Republic of Tanzania. It suggests ways of how to make better use of TRIPS flexibilities available for LDCs in the context of EAC. Additional information: South Centre Research Paper 59, December 2014

Utilization of preferences: update (January 15, 2015)

Market access conditions in developed countries continued to improve for LDCs at the beginning of the current decade (see graph below). A greater share of their exports received true preferential treatment in 2010-2012 (average 53.4 per cent) than in 2000-2002 (average 39.3 per cent), as more dutiable products of export interest to LDCs have been added to LDC-specific and/or other preferential schemes they participate.  For the non-LDC developing countries, only about 20 per cent of their exports receive true preferences in developed country markets. This gives LDCs substantial advantages in selected product markets, particularly in dutiable agricultural products and, to a lesser...

Enhanced Integrated Framework program extended beyond 2015

On December 18, 2014, the EIF steering committee decided to extend the EIF programme beyond 2015. The decision is based on the positive outcomes of a comprehensive evaluation carried out in 2014. The mandate, originally expiring in 2015, is extended until 2022. The extension entails a new phase of the EIF. A proposal on the new scope and modalities will be written and a new pledging conference needs to replenish the multi-donor Trust Fund. Sources: WTO IEF

African Trade Ministers formulate recommendation for WTO

During the Ninth African Union Conference of Trade Ministers in Addis Ababa, recommendations were formulated to address trade challenges of LDCs. Ministers urged the WTO to focus attention on legally binding provisions for DFQF market access. Other market access related issues such as Rules of Origin and cotton were also highlighted. The participants discussed the services waiver, and the anticipated outcome of the high-level meeting in January 2015, where WTO Member states will identify sectors for which they can provide preferential treatment for LDCs. The ministers also touched upon the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), welcoming the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility but...

International Support Measures for LDCs under scrutiny

In a CDP Background paper, Cortez, Kinniburgh and Mollerus analyze several ISMs from an LDC perspective through the review of five case studies. The paper focuses on how the LDCs received support, and the challenges they faced accessing ISMs. Five combinations of countries and ISMs were researched: (1) Preferential market access and Bangladesh, (2) WTO accession support and Nepal, (3) Special and Different Treatment, EIF and the Gambia, (4) the Least Developed Countries Fund and Mozambique, and (5) Smooth Transition Measures and Cape Verde. The analysis of these particular ISMs confirms existing understandings and provides additional insights into them. Specifically, the study...

The WTO reviews DFQF market access for LDCs

During the Bali Ministerial Conference, ministers reconfirmed the Hong Kong decision of 2005 on DFQF market access for LDCs. They also mandated that the WTO secretariat annually publish a preparatory report on DFQF market access regimes. These reports were commissioned to help the Committee for Trade and Development review the steps taken by the WTO Member States to establish and elaborate their DFQF market access schemes. The first report was published in November 2014. This report analyzes the DFQF market schemes established by both developed and developing countries by revealing the percentage of tariff lines covered in them. Most developed countries offer duty free market access...

UNDESA organizes a workshop to review project outcomes and design implementation strategies in Uganda, The Gambia, Lesotho and Nepal

On 17 to 21 November, UNDESA organized a number of workshop meetings in Geneva to discuss the findings of recent project activities related to institutional capacity building in the use of trade-related ISMs. The project focusses on four pilot countries: The Gambia, Uganda, Lesotho and Nepal. Public and private sector representatives of the four countries participated in the workshop, as well as bilateral and international partners. During the first and last days, the preliminary project findings and recommendations and the way forward were discussed. The meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday dealt with one specific recommendation of the project: the removal of...

ICTSD analyses DFQF scheme of India

In the context of a broader research project examining India’s impact through trade, aid and investment on African LDCs, ICTSD looks into the DFQF scheme India established in 2008. The largest part of the study focusses on the system as it was originally set up, although a revision has taken place in April this year. The findings however, are still valuable since the revision did not fully address the main challenges identified by the ICTSD. The original system granted LDCs duty free and quota free market access for 85 % of the Indian tariff lines once the transitional measures were phased out in 2012. For another 9 % of the tariff lines, India offered the LDCs a reduction on...

LDCs push for reform of preferential Rules of Origin

LDCs have advocated more effective preferential Rules of Origin at the meeting of the WTO committee on Rules of Origin on 30 October. The existing rules are often not adjusted to new economic realities, inhibiting optimal use of the preferential market access granted to LDCs. Not only are the Rules of Origin too restrictive and do they entail burdensome compliance procedures, they are also not adapted to the changing international trading environment.  The fact that preferential margins have eroded over time and that the costs to comply with the rules have increased, add to the argument that a revision is needed. In addition, rules are unilaterally designed, entailing that each...

Canada to reinstate preferential tariffs for Myanmar

Canada proposes to lift the trade sanctions imposed on Myanmar in 1997. The sanctions were part of a global concerted response to the human rights situation in the country. As a result, imports from Myanmar could no longer benefit from preferential import schemes. Over the last years however, the situation has changed; elections were held in 2010, political prisoners were released and new laws were issued protecting the freedom of association and assembly. In light of these events, Canada decided to reinstate the preferential market access schemes for Myanmar: the General Preferential Tariff and the Least Developed Country Tariff.   Sources: Canada Gazette Just-style ...

Workshop - CBA Training 21 November 2014

On Friday 21 November a cost-benefit analysis training will be given to participants in the workshop on building institutional capacity in the use of trade-related international support measures. The training will focus on the implementation of surveys for data collection, data processing and data analsysis. The training material can be accessed here .

Bangladesh receives assistance from Canada to enhance DFQF benefits

Canada offers an extended assistance package to Bangladesh, in order to optimise the use of the beneficial market access the latter receives under the Duty-Free Quota-Free market access scheme. Since 2003, nearly all products from LDCs are exempted from import taxes and quotas when entering the Canadian market. The package includes trade facilitation assistance to increase Bangladesh’s exports to Canada; web-based market access services, matchmaking with Canadian importers, outreach and promotion activities for trade representatives, market-entry studies for priority country exporters, a trade-development facility to provide technical assistance and training for Bangladeshi trade...

World Bank Group and WTO team up to enable Trade Facilitation

The World Bank Group and the WTO have decided to increase their collaboration in the context of the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility. The establishment of the Facility is an initiative from the WTO to help developing countries with the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement. This agreement was concluded in December last year, during the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali. The Facility aims to provide a safety net for those countries that cannot find the necessary support in the donor community to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement. The World Bank and the WTO will work together to identify sources of funding and support. The World Bank Group is the largest...

Six LDCs have acceded to the WTO

As of 26 June 2014, six LDCs have acceded to the WTO.  Eight other LDCs are in the process of negotiating their accession packages. 28 LDCs joined the multilateral trade regime before the establishment of the WTO in 1995. LDCs' accession to the WTO (as of June 2014) Country   Application Accession Accession completed Cambodia October 1994 October 2004 Nepal February 1997 April 2004 Samoa* April 1998 May 2012 Vanuatu July 1995 August 2012 Lao's People's Dem. Rep. July 1997 February 2013 Yemen ...