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US GSP is renewed to 2017

On 25 June 2015, US Congress passed the Trade Preferences Extension Act, and subsequently on 29 June 2015, President Obama signed it into law. Trade Preferences Extension Act includes the extension of the GSP program to 31 December, 2017 ( section 201(a) ). The GSP program, instituted by the Trade Act of 1974, is designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry into the US market for nearly 5,000 products from 122 designated beneficiary countries and territories, including 44 LDC beneficiary countries. An additional 1,400 products are GSP-eligible only when imported from LDCs. Congressional authorization for the program...

Expansion of Korea’s DFQF market access for LDCs

The Republic of Korea provides DFQF market access for imports from LDCs since the entry of force of the Presidential Decree on Preferential Tariff for LDCs in 2000. Korea's DFQF scheme for LDCs has expanded over time and rules of origin have been revised, to promote trade between Korea and LDCs. Following up on the 1996 WTO's recommendation of granting DFQF market access for imports from LDCs, Korea decided to provide DFQF market access for 87 products from LDCs in January 2000. An Escape Clause and Rules of Origin Clause were introduced. In January 2008, preferential duty-free access was expanded to include 2,790 tariff lines. Coverage of tariff lines has increased significantly...

New EIF launched at Global Aid for Trade Review

The new Enhanced Integrated Framework ( EIF ) launched on 1 July 2015 at the Global Aid for Trade Review at the WTO in Geneva.  The updated EIF, the only global Aid-for-Trade programme which focuses exclusively on LDCs, has been revised to further strengthen efficiency and effectiveness. For the first time the EIF can fund regional, rather than only national projects. A second phase of the EIF has been approved from 2016 to 2022. The launch of the revised EIF follows an extensive review the EIF partnership completed in December 2014. Overall the review found that significant gains have been made and that the EIF remains a valuable tool for supporting trade in LDCs as well as...

Cambodian bicycle imports into the EU subject to anti-dumping measures

The EU has extended anti-dumping measures on imports of bicycles from China to bicycle imports from Cambodia after an investigation by the European Commission pointed out that several Cambodian companies were engaged in sourcing “ the bicycle parts mainly from China [and] added insufficient value added in their manufacturing operations ”. One company was, according to the Commission report, “ engaged in transshipment practices ”. Imports from Cambodia can benefit from duty free and quota free treatment when entering the EU under the Everything But Arms trade scheme for LDCs. However, to receive preferential treatment, products must comply with rules of origin which restrict maximum...

Merchandise imports from LDCs by the Republic of Korea

Merchandise imports from LDCs by the Republic of Korea have increased substantially over the last decade. Since 2004, imports have quadrupled reaching  $ 4.336 million in 2013 . The share of LDC imports in Korean merchandise imports has also increased but is still marginal. In 2004, LDC imports accounted for 0.46 per cent of Korean imports. In 2013 this was 0.85 per cent. Until 2009, the majority of LDC imports entering the Korean market did not receive preferential treatment. In 2010, 84 per cent of LDC imports were eligible for duty free market access. This considerable rise can be explained by the increasing number of products covered by the Korean LDC scheme: in 2007...

China supports LDC accession to the WTO

In the context of the WTO’s LDCs and Accession Programme, also called the China programme, the Chinese government has made the commitment to contribute US$ 500,000 for 2015, to assist LDCs to accede to the WTO. The China prorgramme is an Aid for Trade initiative supporting LDCs’ integration in the world economy and supports several WTO-related activities for LDCs such as WTO accession internships, WTO accession round table meetings, LDC participation in WTO meetings, South-South dialogue on LDCs and development and LDCs’ trade policy review follow-up workshops. The programme was initiated in 2011. Source: WTO website

China announces 97 per cent DFQF treatment for LDC imports

During the Asian-African Conference which took place this week in Indonesia, the president of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, announced that China will grant LDCs duty free market access for 97 per cent of the tariff lines within the year. It should be noted, that this beneficial market access scheme will apply only for imports from LDCs that have diplomatic relations with China. In 2014, China’s imports from LDCs amounted to $75,665 million and accounted for 3.86 per cent of the country’s imports. These numbers also include imports from LDCs that do not have diplomatic relations with China.   Sources: The standard Comtrade database, 27...

LDC exports declined in 2014

LDC merchandise exports declined by 1.5  per cent  in 2014 (in current prices). The decline is twice as large than the decline of 0.7 per cent (also in nominal terms) recorded in the exports of other developing countries. At the same time, imports by LDCs continued to grow and registered a nominal increase of 8 per cent in 2014, further compromising the  sustainability of the trade balance position of some countries. Meanwhile, services exports increased by 13.5 per cent in LDCs over the last 5 years. The lion's share of the services exports of LDCs (62 per cent) consists of transport and travel services. In developing regions, transport and travel account for a smaller...

UN ESCAP analyses DFQF market access for Asia Pacific LDCs

The trade outlook for Asia-Pacific LDCs and the DFQF market access schemes available for them have been studied by UN ESCAP. The Analysis revealed several interesting facts. In 2013, Asia-Pacific LDCs’ exports accounted for 0.29% of world export, a small but growing number. Exports are, however, not diversified. Garments and agriculture commodities are important export products. The Asia-Pacific LDCs can export under DFQF schemes to their most important export markets, namely the EU, US, China and India. Besides the developed countries, several developing countries in Asia have set up beneficial market access regimes for LDCs such as China, India and Korea. The DFQF schemes are...

STDF deadline for new funding proposals

The STDF aims to allocate at least 40 percent of project grant resources to LDCs and other LICs. The primary objective of the facility is to support developing countries in building capacity to implement international SPS standards, guidelines and recommendations. From 2004 to 2014, the STDF has financed 70 projects, 31 of which in LDCs. Funded projects often focus on identification, development and dissemination of good practices, are linked to the STDF thematic topics , include regional or global approaches and are innovative, collaborative and inter-disciplinary. The next deadline for submission of funding proposals to the STDF is 17 July...

Standards and Trade Development Facility

The  Standards and Trade Development Facility  seeks to assist developing countries in building their capacity to analyze and employ international standards, guidelines and recommendations and thus improve their ability to secure and retain access to markets.  In order to achieve this, the STDF focusses efforts on two sets of activities: - increase awareness, mobilize resources, strengthen collaboration and identify and disseminate good practice; - provide support and funding for the development and implementation of projects that promote compliance with international SPS requirements. The STDF is a global partnership established by the  Food...

STDF 5 year work plan approved by its 5 founding agencies

The five agencies that established the STDF - FAO, OIE, World Bank, WHO and WTO - and partners approved the 5-year STDF work plan covering the period 2015 to 2019. This decision allows the STDF to continue its activities until the end of the decade. Activities and projects are financed via the STDF trust fund that is administrated by the WTO. A funding target is set at 5 million USD per year. The trust fund is replenished by voluntary donations. Sources: WTO-website STDF Medium-Term Strategy (2015-2019)

Rice exports from LDCs to the EU 40 times higher in six year

In 2009, the transitional quota for rice, exempting the product from the EU’s DFQF market access scheme for LDCs, ended.  Since then, rice imports from Asian LDCs have increased about 40 times: in 2008-2009, 10,000 ton was imported, in 2013-2014, about 402,000 tonnes entered the EU market. Cambodia is the largest exporter, responsible for the lion’s share of Asian LDC rice export to the EU. The main rice producer in the EU, Italy, is watching these trends closely and urges the EU to adopt a safeguard clause, restricting LDC rice import in the EU. Source: Oryza

EU supports LDCs participation in trade negotiations

The EU and its member states continue to finanancially support the participation of developing countries and LDCs in trade-related international meetings and negotiations.The EU has recently pledged €2 million to the WTO Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund (DDAGTF) and €100 000 for evaluation of the fund. The donation will support active participation of LDCs and other developing countries in the Doha Round negotiations. In 2014, the EU also contributed to FAO/IPPC, the OIE and Codex Alimentarius to assist developing countries and LDCs in particular to attend the standard setting meetings of the respective organizations. Sources: EU Commission, DG Trade, news EU...

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 responded to the collective request made by the LDC group for preferential treatment of LDC services exports. At the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva in December 2011, WTO members adopted a Waiver which allows member states to grant preferential market access to services and service suppliers from LDCs on a non-reciprocal and unilateral basis.  Subsequently, at the Bali Ministerial conference in December 2013, a roadmap was drafted to speed up implementation of the services waiver. LDCs were to prepare a collective request , which was submitted in July 2014, specifying those sectors and...

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 have increased substantially, reversing the negative trends of 2011 and 2012. The commitments for 2013, amounting to US$9,297 million,  even surpassed the pre-2011 level by US$2,432 million. Most of this 2013 increase is in the form of loans from US$616 million 2012 to US$3,357 million in 2013. Grants recorded 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 accounting for about a quarter of total folows or less. However, LDCs cannot escape the general trend  of...