CTG March 2012

Last Friday we had the CTG formal meeting. The formal meeting was preceded by a brief informal meeting where the Chair informed the Members that the consultations for the CTG subsidiary bodies are still ongoing and since he is not ready to propose a slate of names, the appointment is suspended. A meeting to follow-up on the appointments will be convened at a later time.

Immediately afterwards, the formal meeting began and there were a few things that are worth noting. On the Status of Notifications under the WTO related agreement, the EU and the US highlighted the need to have up to date notifications in order to ensure transparency and discourage protectionism, furthermore, the US noted that numerous notifications remain outstanding and encouraged Members to provide the required notifications.

On Argentina’s import restricting policies and practices, the US, through Ambassador Punke, delivered the joint-statement. The joint-statement was supported by other delegations (Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong China, Malaysia and China), who took the floor to express their views. In reply to this, Argentina went on to say that the statement had no specific questions, but instead focuses on Argentina’s global policy, and highlighted its systematic concerns on the effects of similar statements to developing countries’ policy development. Finally, Argentina stressed its economic growth as a key contributing factor to the gloomy economic environment. Amb. Punke took the floor again, and stated that Argentina did not reply to the questions posed and urged them to address these concerns as soon as possible.

Next in the agenda, the US, EU, Japan, Canada and Panama brought up again Ecuador’s change from ad-valorum tariffs to mixed tariffs. The requesting parties explained that it has been over a year and half since the issue was first raised, and there have been no answers to the specific questions raised. Ecuador stated that the questions posed have already been answered and its positions was supported by Cuba and Venezuela.

The Philippines request for a waiver relating to Special Treatment for Rice of the Philippines, since the original extension on its special treatment for rice is set to expire June 30, 2012. Philippines argued that the original 7 years extension was agreed upon on the understanding that the outcome of the DDA negotiations would provide an alternative special mechanism that would cushion any negative impacts of liberalization on rice on its food and livelihood security. The requested waiver is limited in scope to continuing the special treatment for rice during 01 July 2012 to 30 June 2017. On this, the US, Australia, Pakistan and El Salvador stated that they cannot support the request at the moment, but will continue dialogue with the Philippines. The EU on the other hand stated that in principle supports the request.

Under other business, the EU raised an issue on Ukraine’s implementation of the Custom Valuation legislation, where the EU argued that trade operators are subject to arbitrary decisions from the authorities and asked Ukraine to bring its legislation into compliance with the CVA under the WTO. Norway, the US and Switzerland supported the request. Ukraine stated that once the EU submits its questions in writing, Ukraine will reply accordingly.

Finally, the new Chairman of the CTG, Tom MBOYA OKEYO was introduced. He informed the Members that consultations for the Chairs of the subcommittees will continue under the previous Chair and a meeting will be convened in due time to inform on the developments.

The next meeting is scheduled for June 11, 2012.