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China announces 97 per cent DFQF treatment for LDC imports

The president of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, announced that China will grant LDCs duty free market access for 97 per cent of the tariff lines within the year. The president made the statement during the Asian-African Conference in Indonesia which took place this week. The beneficial market access scheme will apply for imports from LDCs that have diplomatic relations with China. Sources: The Wall Street Journal The standard

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...

Monitoring countries

The Committee for Development Policy is mandated by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council to monitor the development progress of graduating and graduated LDCs, and to eport its findings in its annual report to the Council. The lastet monitoring by the Committee took place at its 17 th plenary session this past March. The Committee reviewed the development progress of graduated Maldives and Samoa, and of graduating Equatorial Guinea and Vanuatu. Maldives (graduated in 2011) and Samoa (graduated in 2014) continued to achieve steady development progress, as indicated by continued progress in the countries’ GNI per capita and human asset index (HAI) levels. However,...

The 2015 triennial review of the LDC category

The Committee for Development Policy met in plenary session at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 23 to 27 March 2015. The triennial review of the list of the least developed countries was one of the items on the Committee’s agenda.   The identification of least developed countries (LDCs) — defined as low-income countries suffering from severe structural impediments to sustainable development— is based on three criteria: (a) per capita gross national income (GNI), as an indicator of income-generating capacity; (b) the human assets index (HAI) as an indicator of human assets; and (c) the economic vulnerability index (EVI) as an indicator of structural vulnerability...

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...

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...