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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...

Asia Pacific High Level Policy Dialogue discusses the Istanbul Programme of Action

An Asia Pacific High-Level Dialogue took place from 4 to 6 March in Cambodia, with policy makers, experts and development partners discussing the implementation of the IPOA in the region. One of the main messages was that graduating from the LDC list is not about “checking the boxes” of the graduation criteria, but improving the livelihoods of the 300 million people living in the Asia-Pacific LDCs. Promoting sustainable and inclusive growth is key to achieving a real transformation of lives. The participants underscored the importance of delivering on commitments made by LDCs, development partners and the UN system in the IPOA. An outcome document was adopted, which can be used as an...

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...

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

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

Asia Pacific LDCs meet in Kathmandu to discuss graduation strategies and Post 2015 agenda

From 16 to 18 December, a Ministerial meeting took place in Kathmandu, Nepal. Delegates from Asia-Pacific LDCs, UN officials and other regional partners discussed development strategies for LDCs. The meeting focused both on graduation strategies and the Post 2015 agenda. The Under Secretary-General and High Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS emphasized during his opening speech that graduation in itself is not an end goal; strategies should focus on structural transformations of economies and livelihoods of people. In line with this remark, strategies debated dealt with economic transformation. Examples are enhancing investment in the productive sector, upgrading...

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 Committee for Development Policy 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...

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...

Financing for Development: what is at stake for the LDCs

The Permanent Mission of Benin and Chair of the Global Coordination Bureau of the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Office of the High Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS (OHRLLS) are co-organising a briefing session entitled 'Financing for Development: What is at stake for LDCs?’. The briefing session takes place on Tuesday, 9 December from 1.15 to 2.45 pm in Conference Room 6, UN Headquarters, New York.

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 ...