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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...

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 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...

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 ...

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 .

UNCTAD helps Angola in preparing trade policy framework

A joint UNCTAD-Government of Angola consultative workshop was held on 29 and 30 September 2014, in Luanda, Angola, in the preparation of country’s comprehensive trade policy framework.  Angola's trade policy, Economic Transformation Program, will be an input to the government's vision of diversifying the nation's economy (which is now almost entirely dependent on trade in oil and diamonds) into agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing and services, in view of its preparation for graduation from the LDC category. The draft trade policy framework, prepared by UNCTAD, encompasses an analysis of trade performance, trade policy measures and options, and other complementary measures,...

Asia-Pacific LDCs meet in Dhaka to discuss graduation gaps

Twelve Asia-Pacific LDCs are meeting at a regional conference in Dhaka to discuss which econo mic sectors can play a key role in their economic development. Other items on the agenda are the financial deficit of the countries and means to attract domestic and international investors. The overarching aim is to find ways to ‘finance graduation gaps’. This relates to the gradation-target that the LDCs have set in the IPoA: at least 50 % of the LDC group meets the graduation criteria by the end of the decade. In order to reach this goal, acceleration in the area of economic development is required. The meeting is organized by the Economic Relations Division of Bangladesh, in cooperation...

OECD finds slowing ODA growth in LDCs

The Chair of the DAC of OECD published the Development Co-operation Report 2014 : Mobilising Resources for Sustainable Development , on 7 October 2014.  It provides an overview of the financial sources available to developing countries and proposes recommendations on how to mobilise further resources. It also explores how to mobilise resources to finance the provision of global public goods, such as stable climate, peace and security, and a fair and equal trading system. The report finds that “ODA growth is slowing in those countries which need it most – fragile states and least developed countries” and recommends to monitor more attentively the target of allocating...

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...