The thirteenth session of the SPECA Thematic Working Group on Trade was chaired by Tajikistan
On July 4 of this year in Switzerland, in the framework of the High Level Seminar on Trade in United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) was held the thirteenth session of the SPECA Thematic Working Group on Trade, which was chaired by the First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade of the Republic of Tajikistan Mr. Zavqizoda Zavqi Amin.
The event focused on the possibilities and challenges of cooperation between countries, regional implementation plans, realization of the provisions of the WTO Agreement on facilitation procedures, exchange of experiences between countries, mutual assistance among countries of the region, strengthening of cooperation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, NTMs and technical barriers to trade, simplification of trade procedures and Sustainable trade in Central Asia.
Mr. Zavqizoda presented the achievements of the Republic of Tajikistan in the field of foreign trade, as a country's participation in the WTO, simplification of the trade procedures, enhancement of export, acceleration of the diversification of the export-oriented products and he noted that the existing capacities between SPECA’s members are not used completely.
In addition during the event, for the purpose of strengthening of the future trade cooperation between the SPECA’s member countries was developed the draft of "Regional SPECA trade facilitation Strategy" and relevant document on International Trade and Sustainable Development which sent to the Governments of the member states for approval.
It should be noted that the Republic of Tajikistan is chairing of the SPECA Working Group on trade.
Tajikistan presented to the Director General of the World Trade Organization Mr. Roberto Azevedo Instrument of Acceptance of the Protocol Amending the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization
On 2nd July 2019 during the meeting with the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Mr. Roberto Azevedo the First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mr. Zavqizoda Zavqi Amin has introduced the achievements of the country in international trade integration and trade facilitation in the framework of the WTO and also informed about the completed tasks on preparation of the Republic of Tajikistan to its first Trade Policy Review (TPR).
It was noted that on the basis of the instruction of the Founder of Peace and National Unity – Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan H. E. Emomali Rahmon the first Trade Policy Review of Tajikistan is planned to be held in April 2020 and in order to conduct it on high level the relevant Action Plan was approved by the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan.
During the meeting Mr. Roberto Azevedo highly ranked the achievements and progress of the Republic of Tajikistan in the post WTO accession period.
At the end of the meeting, the First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade presented to the Director General of the WTO the Tajikistan’s Instrument of Acceptance of the Protocol Amending the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization.
Introduction of the Republic of Tajikistan’s trade sector achievements in the 53rd annual session of the Joint Advisory Group of International Trade Centre
During his speech at the 53rd annual session of the Joint Advisory Group of International Trade Centre (ITC) the First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mr. Zavqizoda Zavqi Amin has noted the achievements of the country in the post WTO accession period.
Zavqizoda Zavqi Amin has highly ranked the cooperation with the ITC and introduced the achievements of the country in the framework of implementation of strategic documents including participation of Tajikistan in the WTO, strengthening of the export development, acceleration of diversification of production of export oriented goods and facilitation of trade procedures.
In addition, implementation of the sectoral reforms led to the increase of the share of exports to the foreign trade turnover from 20% in 2015 to 25.4% in 2018. Tajikistan increased the trade partner countries from 90 to 110 and diversified the list export products from 150 to 480.
In the framework of technical and financial support provided by ITC, it was noted that during its cooperation with ITC, Republic of Tajikistan has achieved a number of significant accomplishments, including organization of seminars for more than 1200 employees of ministries, agencies and private sector, development of the Strategy on development of textile and clothing industry for the period of 2016-2025 and establishment of Tajikistan Trade Portal.
Participants of the Session highly appreciated the achievements of the Republic of Tajikistan in trade sector and its participation in the activities of the WTO and expressed their readiness for increasing support in these directions.
Protocol of the 7th meeting of the CCFTP
Dushanbe ¹7 29 May 2019
Chairperson: Minister of the economic development and trade – N. Hikmatullozoda
The Members of CCFTP participated in the Meeting. In addition, development partners representatives, including ITC, UNDP, OSCE and IFC also participated in the Meeting.
According to the agenda of the meeting 3 items were discussed, including:
1. Report of the executive secretary of the CCFTP on implementation of the protocol instructions in 2018;
2. Challenges of the Private sector and given tax preferences in textile and clothing sector;
3. Acknowledgement of the RT certificates in other countries and reduction of list of products that are mandatorily being certificated.
Minister of economic development and trade – Chairperson of the CCFTP has stated the meeting and noted that the Founder of Peace and National Unity – Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, H. E. Emomali Rahmon has given detailed instructions on providing favourable conditions for domestic producers and elimination of barriers for trade and services sector during the meetings of the Government of RT.
On 10th May 2019, a meeting of the Leader of the Nation and representatives of the finance, banking, tax, customs and investments sectors was conducted and relevant instructions on elimination of the existing problems were given. The CCFTP’s responsibility also includes elimination of the mentioned issues, including development of the new Tax Code.
During the meeting the executive secretary of the CCFTP has made a presentation on implementation of the 2018’s protocol instructions and noted that those instructions included implementation of the Roadmap of CCFTP, Categorization of TFA obligations, activation of the Tajikistan Trade Portal, implementation of the action plan on getting the legislation of the RT in line with TFA provisions, approval of the Program on development of transport services and selection of the new CCFTP Members from the number of representatives of the private sector.
CCFTP has validated the list of new CCFTP Members from the number of representatives of the private sector including the Union of Professional Consultants of Tajikistan and the Union of Private Sector Development.
Representative of the Union of Private Sector Development (UPSD) Mr. Muhammadiev Abdullo has made a presentation on challenges faced by the producers of textile and clothing sector. He has noted that these sectors face challenges on unhealthy competition brought by smuggling of uncertified and low quality products to the country.
Chair of the CCFTP added that during the meeting on 10th May, Leader of the Nation has given relevant instruction to the relevant border working agencies on elimination of smugglings to the country, provision of accurate statistics, proper customs and transportation procedures.
In addition, a representative of the Tax Committee has made a presentation on given preferences to the textile and clothing sector and its profits.
Head of the CCFTP noted that, currently an order on exemption from the VAT and customs duties of the raw materials that are not being produced in the territory of Tajikistan has been prepared and this document will ease some of the challenges of the producers of textile and clothing.
In addition, representative of UPSD has proposed to establish a Fund on support of the development of the textile industry under the Government of RT.
Furthermore, a representative of the LLC Lesinvest has made presentation on the challenges faced by the company. It was noted that the company is the only importer of the Red Bull in the country. Currently the company faces a lot of problems including smuggling of the Red Bull to the country and increasing the import customs duties for the energy drink. According to the new decree of the Government of RT “On import customs duties” Red Bull has customs duty of 20% but not less than 0,12 Euros for 1 Litre, which is relatively higher than it was before (0,07 Euros for 1 Litre).
Head of the CCFTP has given instruction to the WG on improvement of tariff and non-tariff measures to fully review this issue and report to the Secretariat on its results.
Representative of the Customs Service has noted their readiness to review the challenges of the company in accordance with legislation of the RT.
Next, a representative of Tajikstandart and Committee on Food Safety presented their reports on acknowledgement of the RT’s certificates in other countries.
It was noted that RT’s certificates are being acknowledged in accordance with the intergovernmental agreements, including the CIS Agreement from 13 March 1992. Also a report on reduction of list of mandatorily certificated products was presented to the participants.
Head of the Committee noted that more than 2500 of RT’s products are being mandatorily certificated which almost twice more than other countries.
Moreover, Head of the CCFTP noted that in order to implement requirements of the Law of RT “On foreign economic activity” and the 1 part, 2 paragraph of the action plan of Program of adjustment of economy of RT related to the WTO accession (31 October 2014, #691) a WG headed by the MEDT, with participation of specialists of ministries and agencies for development of normative legal act on implementation of special safeguard, antidumping and countervailing measures for the 3rd countries should be established.
Furthermore, he has noted that in order to simplify the import and export procedures of products a WG with participation of specialists of ministries and agencies for improvement of Tajikistan Trade Portal should be established.
Head of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Dushanbe noted that there are many opportunities for the development of the textile industry and SECO is ready to cooperate in this direction when a detailed project will be presented.
In addition, a representative of IFC has noted that currently a new project is being developed and it could provide new sources of financing for domestic producers and exporters.
Head of the Association of Customs brokers has noted her concern about challenges faced by the foreign economic participants’ during transportation of goods. She has also proposed to take into account the comments and proposals of the private sector during development of the Tax Code.
During the meeting discussions took place and members of the committee including Head of the committee, private sector representatives and the development partners shared their views on the agenda items.
At the end of the meeting, Head of the Committee noted that the protocol of the meeting should be prepared and the following decisions should be included to the protocol of the meeting:
1. Protocol instructions’ execution should be monitored by the Secretariat of the Committee;
2. Customs Service should send for revision of the Government of RT the draft Law on amendments to the Customs Code by the end of the second half of 2019;
3. Customs Service and Ministry of Transport should conduct import customs procedures in accordance with the destination of product and where the importer wants to complete the procedure. In addition a report on challenges should be presented to the CCFTP Secretariat;
4. Ministry of Transport should send for revision of Government of RT the Program on Transport Services development in the shortest period of time;
5. WG on improvement of tariff and non-tariff measures should completely revise the issue of the LLC Lesinvest and present a report to the Secretariat;
6. Committee on Food Safety and Tajikstandart should monitor the acknowledgement of the local certificates by other countries in accordance with intergovernmental agreements and present a report on this issue to the Secretariat of the CCFTP;
7. Within 3 months, Tajikstandart should prepare, get approval of ministries and agencies and send for revision of Government of RT a project of decree of the Government of RT “on amending the decree of Government of RT from 18 June 2012, #310 “ On the list of products that should be certificated mandatorily””;
8. Association of customs brokers of RT shall send a request to Ministry of Finance to join private sector in the development of the project of Tax Code;
9. A WG with participation of specialists of ministries and agencies for revision of textile and clothing sector challenges should be established;
10. In order to implement requirements of the Law of RT “On foreign economic activity” and the 1 part, 2 paragraph of the action plan of Program of adjustment of economy of RT related to the WTO accession (31 October 2014, #691) a WG with participation of specialists of ministries and agencies for development of normative legal act on implementation of special safeguard, antidumping and countervailing measures for the 3rd countries should be established;
11. In order to simplify the import and export procedures of products a WG with participation of specialists of ministries and agencies for improvement of Tajikistan Trade Portal should be established;
12. This protocol should be sent to the Members of the CCFTP, relevant ministries and agencies and private sector for revision and implementation of relevant instructions.
On May 29, 2019, the seventh meeting of the Coordinating Committee on Facilitation of Trade Procedures (CCFTP) was held in the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade with the participation of representatives of ministries and agencies, private sector and international organizations.
Head of the Committee – Minister of Economic Development and Trade, distinguished Nematullo Hikmatullozoda noted that the main purpose of establishing the CCFTP is to solve the existing issues of the Private Sector and by discussing and dealing with the issues that are described during the meeting would directly accelerate the implementation of the strategic documents and further develop the economy of the country.
In order to implement the instructions of the Founder of Peace and National Unity - Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, H. E. Emomali Rahmon, the issues of the textile and clothing sectors, tax preferences for the export and import of the mentioned sectors’ products, acknowledgment of the certificates of the Republic of Tajikistan in other countries, importers’ challenges and monitoring of the implementation of the 2018 protocol instructions of the CCFTP were discussed during the meeting. Moreover, the new Members from the number of the representatives of the private sector were introduced to the CCFTP.
The meeting provided a free dialogue between public and private sector representatives, during which proposals from the private sector were submitted to public sector representatives for revision.
By the end of the meeting, detailed instructions on solving the existing problems of the private sector were given for revision and implementation of the relevant CCFTP Members.
On 22 May 2019 Trade Policy Review (TPR) of Trinidad and Tobago was held in the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland. The official delegation headed by the First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade Zavqizoda Zavqi Amin participated and presented Tajikistan’s position in the event.
The main purpose of participation of the Tajikistan’s delegation in the TPR of Trinidad and Tobago was introduction to the process and order of conducting this event, exchange of experience and holding discussions related to the conducting of the First TPR of the Republic of Tajikistan in the WTO with the focal points of the Organization.
It should be noted that on the basis of the instruction of the Founder of Peace and National Unity – Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, H. E. Emomali Rahmon the First TPR of Tajikistan is planned to be held in April 2020 and in order to conduct this event on high level the relevant Action plan was validated by the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan.
In this order, with a view of preparing the TPR report of the Republic of Tajikistan, participation of the official delegation of the country in the TPR of Trinidad and Tobago in the WTO is highly important.
Meeting of the First Deputy Minister of the Economic Development and Trade with the Director of the International Trade Centre
On 21 May 2019 a meeting of the official delegation of the Republic of Tajikistan headed by the First Deputy Minister of the Economic Development and Trade Mr. Zavqizoda Zavqi Amin with participation of the First Deputy Head of the Customs Services Mr. Tursunzoda Azim Haydar and the Senior Specialist of the Planning and Reforms Department of the Executive Office of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Mr. Umed Mirzoev with the Director of the International Trade Centre Ms. Arancha Gozalez was held in Geneva, Switzerland. During the meeting bilateral and multilateral cooperation of the parties were discussed.
Mr. Zavqizoda Zavqi Amin has expressed gratitude to the ITC for the mutually beneficial cooperation and introduced the achievements of the Republic of Tajikistan in the framework of implementation of the strategic documents’ goals and priorities including the participation of Tajikistan in the World Trade Organization, export development, acceleration of the diversification of the export-oriented products and trade facilitation.
It was noted that as a result of the taken actions the share of the foreign trade turnover increased from 20% in 2015 to 25.3% in 2018 and the number of trading partners increased from 90 to 110 countries, export diversification increased from 150 to approximately 480 products.
ITC has highly appreciated the accomplishments of the Republic of Tajikistan in trade facilitation and active participation in WTO works and declared its readiness for increasing the assistance and technical support for further development of the economy of the Republic of Tajikistan.
On April 26, 2019, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Republic of Tajikistan has officially launched a Tajikistan Trade Portal, which was developed by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and International Trade Centre with financial support of the Government of Switzerland and other development partners, namely the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the United Nations Development Programme. The event took place at the “HYATT Regency” Hotel with the participation of representatives of ministries and agencies, commercial organizations, public associations, international financial organizations and development partners, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps of foreign countries in Dushanbe.
In the opening speech by Mr. Zavqizoda Zavqi Amin, First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade, it was noted that the Tajikistan Trade Portal was established in order to fulfill the orders and instructions of the Founder of Peace and National Unity - Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan H. E. Emomali Rahmon to strengthen export potential and facilitate trade procedures.Tajikistan Trade Portal is the first experience and tool in the country's foreign trade activity, which provides information to domestic and foreign entrepreneurs and other stakeholders on import, export and transit procedures of 39 product groups, which is equivalent to 1500 goods and products.
During the event, a video and presentation of the Tajikistan Trade Portal was presented to participants. Meanwhile, Mr. Zavqizoda Z. A. and representatives of the development partners in the Republic of Tajikistan, including the Swiss Cooperation Office in Tajikistan/SECO, the International Trade Centre, the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe, and the United Nations Development Program participated in the high-level panel discussion on the subject of “Digitalisation and trade facilitation for effective trade governance”.
At the end of the event, the First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade officially launched Tajikistan Trade Portal and announced its full accessibility to the public.
On April 15-17 in the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade held a workshop on the drafting Report of the First Trade Policy Review of the Republic of Tajikistan related to the membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), which is scheduled on April 2020, in accordance with the decision of the Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon.
The Director of the WTO Trade Policy Review Department, Willy Alfaro, the consultants of this department and representatives of relevant ministries and agencies of the republic participated in the event.
In order to conduct a high-level first review of the trade policy of the Republic of Tajikistan related to the membership in the WTO, during a workshop by the consultants of the WTO Secretariat were made presentations about the form and process of conducting a trade policy review by WTO members and government representatives on the achievements and development of certain sectors of the country's trade after joining the WTO.
It should be noted that, in accordance with the WTO principles developing members of WTO conduct trade policy review of their achievements and development of the country after membership in the WTO once every seven years.
On April 10 and 11, 2019 held the regional conference "The geographical location of goods in Central Asia" by the initiative of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade with the assistance of the Representation of the European Union in Tajikistan, Dushanbe.
The event was opened by the Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mr. Jurazoda Tojiddin and the EU Ambassador of Tajikistan Mrs. Marilyn Josefsson, during which more than 100 people were participating and spoke from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and the Dushanbe diplomatic corps.
Also, representatives of the private and public sectors of the Republic of Tajikistan participated in the event, including the Association of Farmers and Artisans, regional financial organizations and international donors.
It should be noted that such conference was held first time in Central Asia, where the issue was discussed about the geographical location of goods.
The purpose of the conference is to show the ways of developing rules for geographical location of goods in Central Asia to promote regional trade cooperation and trade facilitation, as well as the development of export potential in the region.
The event will support the country's goods and product competitiveness, while at the same time contributing for integration of the Republic of Tajikistan to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP +).
Seminar on Authorized Economic Operators
On 11-13 March 2019, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Republic of Tajikistan in cooperation with United Nation’s Economic Commission of Europe (UNECE) held a seminar on Authorized Economic Operators, which is an integral part of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement with participation of representatives of relevant ministries, agencies, international organizations and private sector.
The seminar started by the opening speech of the Head of the WTO Affairs Department Mr AbdurahmonovAbdurahmon who has expressed gratitude to the participants. It was noted that the discussed topics of the seminar are considered in the framework of implementation of WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Furthermore, representative of UNECE Maria Teresa and representative of ITC provided information on challenges and priorities of the Authorized Economic Operators.
During the seminar, specialists have presented presentations on Authorized Economic Operators and reliable foreign economic activity participants, cooperation with government authorities on the national and regional levels of reliable foreign economic activity participants, Roadmap of the Coordinating Committee for Facilitation of Trade Procefures including customs legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan.
Moreover, during the seminar, exercises were conducted and the issues were discussed from the point of view of the international experiences.
Finally, certificates were given to the participants of the seminar.
The second meeting of the Interdepartmental Working Group on the preparation and development of the first draft report of the Trade Policy Review of the Republic of Tajikistan to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other relevant issues
On February 25, 2019 the second meeting of the Interdepartmental Working Group on the preparation and development of the first draft report of the Trade Policy Review of the Republic of Tajikistan to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other relevant issues in the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Republic of Tajikistan was held under the guidance of the Head of WTO Affairs Department Abdurakhmonov A. S. the representatives of relevant ministries and departments (members of the group) attended the meeting.
It should be noted that according to the consent of the Founder of Peace and National Unity - the Leader of the Nation, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmon and the decree of the Head of the Executive Office of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan dated January 5, 2019, No. 22/10, the date of the first review of the trade policy of the Republic of Tajikistan WTO will April 2020.
In order to fulfill the decree of the First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan dated December 18, 2017, No. 17382 (22-6) of the draft report on the review of the trade policy of the Republic of Tajikistan at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other relevant issues and in order to conduct a review, the Order The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of June 29, 2018, No. 42, established the Interdepartmental Working Group.
Also, in according to WTO rules, WTO member states should submit a report on the review of their country's trade policy to the WTO Secretariat, in connection with further submission to WTO member states. The main purpose of reporting to member countries is to create a transparent and predictable business environment within the WTO.
In this regard, the achievement of these goals is impossible without a regular review of trade policy. Member countries of the WTO should report the activities, achievements and progress of their country within the framework of the trade policy review mechanism.
At the meeting, also from the part of the Head of the WTO Affairs Department, Abdurakhmonov A. S., an Action Plan was presented for preparing and writing a report on the trade policy review of the Republic of Tajikistan to WTO for information.
Addressing a meeting of European Union trade ministers in Bucharest, Romania, on 21 February 2019, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo welcomed the EU’s engagement in the conversations aimed at strengthening the WTO and called for their continued leadership to help address some of the key challenges in global trade, including current trade tensions and the impasse in the WTO’s dispute settlement system.
The Director-General said:
“Strengthening the trading architecture is a critical element in improving prospects for global trade. WTO members are exploring possible reforms to the trading system that would help efforts to that end. This is very positive. We have struck a series of major new trade deals over the last few years, but we must do more to make the WTO faster and responsive to members' needs. I welcome the key role that the EU is playing here to help us meet these challenges and find positive ways forward.
“There’s no doubt that we are faced, today, with an extremely difficult and complex range of challenges. But we also have the opportunity to put the trading system on a stronger footing for the years to come. Our best response is to tackle systemic issues head on, while also advancing wherever possible in our negotiating work and other issues which are of interest to members. On all of this, the EU's leadership will be essential.”
The Director-General also commented on the current situation regarding the impasse in appointments to the WTO Appellate Body, urging all members to keep probing for possible ways forward. The meeting was chaired by Romania's Minister for Business Environment, Trade and Entrepreneurship, Ștefan-Radu Oprea. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Bernd Lange MEP and Chair of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade also addressed the meeting.
During his visit to Bucharest, DG Azevêdo also had a bilateral meeting with Romanian Vice Prime Minister Ana Birchall to discuss the outlook for global trade and Romania's continued integration into the global economy.
Belarus stressed its strong commitment to conclude WTO accession negotiations by the 12th Ministerial Conference, which will take place in June 2020 in Astana, Kazakhstan. At the 11th meeting of the Working Party on the Accession of Belarus on 15 February, members commended Belarus’ efforts to bring its trade regime in conformity with WTO rules but underlined that significant progress will be needed if such an ambitious target is to be met. The meeting was the fourth since the resumption of the Working Party process in January 2017.
H.E. Mr. Andrei Yeudachenka, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, led a 30-person delegation in Geneva which included deputy ministers of the Ministries of Justice, Anti-monopoly Regulation and Trade, and Agriculture as well as high-level officials of various government agencies and the chief negotiator for the WTO accession of Belarus, Ambassador Vladimir Serpikov.
"The year of 2019 is crucial for Belarus on its path to WTO membership. We’ve set an ambitious goal to agree on all modalities of our accession to the WTO before the 12th Ministerial Conference in June 2020 in Astana," Mr. Yeudachenka said. "We believe that the time has come to move from a 25-year-long review of the Belarusian foreign trade regime to finalizing the draft commitments’ language," he added.
Mr. Yeudachenka cited some of the recent efforts undertaken by his government to bring the Belarusian legislation in conformity with WTO rules, such as: the cancellation of the foreign currency surrender requirement; the entry into force of a new Law on Anti-monopoly Regulation; and the introduction of amendments to the Law on Public Procurement. In addition, the Belarusian government was planning to introduce new legislation on natural monopolies, and protection of copyright and related rights, Mr. Yeudachenka stated. He also reported that Belarus had been granted observer status in the Government Procurement Committee and had submitted its draft Information Technology Agreement (ITA) schedule of commitments to the ITA Committee.
The Working Party Chair, Ambassador Kemal Madenoglu of Turkey, noted: "The Belarusian government has clearly indicated that it is fully mobilized and committed – at both political and technical levels - to concluding accession negotiations by MC12. This is an ambitious objective. I hope that, collectively, we can rise to this challenge. It is clear that Belarus can only achieve its goal if key domestic policy reforms are implemented in the near future. This will send WTO members a signal that Belarus' ambitions are credible."
"Over the next few months, I hope that we will see a genuine attempt by all parties to find common ground on key outstanding issues. Belarus has a lot to do and the ball is very much in its court. The Working Party needs to see tangible proof of Belarus' commitment to implement WTO-related reforms," he added.
On the bilateral track, Belarus confirmed the finalization of negotiations with Argentina, Iceland, Switzerland and Chinese Taipei, and that overall 20 bilateral market access agreements have been concluded.
On the legislative front, the Chair requested Belarus to keep the Working Party regularly informed of legislative developments by submitting translated copies of any new WTO-related legislation both at the national and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) levels. He also invited the Belarusian authorities to update its Legislative Action Plan for consideration at the next Working Party meeting.
Members underlined the need for Belarus to advance its reform agenda and liberalize its trade regime. They asked Belarus for clarification on a wide range of issues, including the investment regime, state ownership, pricing and competition policies, industrial policy, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and intellectual property rights.
The Chair said the timing of the next meeting will depend on the availability of the required inputs and on progress on the market access front. "A specific date will emerge in consultation with delegations and the Secretariat once the new inputs are circulated. Nonetheless, I trust that the next meeting could take place before the summer break," Ambassador Madenoglu said.
Trade weakness is likely to extend into the first quarter of 2019, according to the WTO’s latest World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI) released on 19 February. The simultaneous decline of several trade-related indicators should put policy makers on guard for a sharper slowdown should the current trade tensions remain unresolved.
The most recent WTOI reading of 96.3 is the weakest since March 2010 and below the baseline value of 100 for the index, signalling below-trend trade expansion into the first quarter. Weakness in the overall index was driven by steep declines in the component indices, which appear to be under pressure from heightened trade tensions. Indices for export orders (95.3), international air freight (96.8), automobile production and sales (92.5), electronic components (88.7) and agricultural raw materials (94.3) have shown the strongest deviations from trend, approaching or surpassing previous lows since the financial crisis. Only the index for container port throughput remained relatively buoyant at 100.3, showing on-trend growth.
Temporary factors may have influenced some of the indices. Front-loading of imports ahead of anticipated US-China tariffs may have sustained container shipping to some extent, while technical problems in the German automotive sector may have contributed to weakness in automobile production and sales. It should be noted that below-trend growth in an index does not necessarily imply a decline in the underlying data.
This sustained loss of momentum highlights the urgency of reducing trade tensions, which together with continued political risks and financial volatility could foreshadow a broader economic downturn. The WTO downgraded its trade forecast last September amid escalating trade disputes and tighter credit market conditions. Trade growth is currently forecast to slow to 3.7% in 2019 from an expected 3.9% in 2018, but these estimates could be revised downward if trade conditions continue to deteriorate. Nevertheless, greater certainty and improvement in the policy environment could bring about a swift rebound in trade growth.
Designed to provide "real time" information on the trajectory of world trade relative to recent trends, the WTOI is not intended as a short-term forecast, although it does provide an indication of trade growth in the near future. It aims to identify turning points and gauge momentum in global trade growth. As such, it complements trade statistics and forecasts from the WTO and other organizations. Readings of 100 indicate growth in line with medium-term trends; readings greater than 100 suggest above-trend growth, while those below 100 indicate below trend growth.
Director-General Roberto Azevêdo was in Maputo, Mozambique, today (14 February), where he met President Filipe Nyusi. They discussed how to strengthen global trade cooperation for the future, through the WTO, so it can keep supporting the integration of Mozambique and other least developed countries (LDCs) into the global economy.
The Director-General also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation José Condugua António Pacheco and the Minister of Industry and Trade Ragendra de Sousa. In addition, the Director-General visited the National Institute for Standardisation and Quality.
While in Mozambique, the Director-General said:
“I am pleased to be in Mozambique, following President Nyusi's visit to the WTO last year. This is an important occasion to build on our cooperation and ensure that trade plays its full role here in Mozambique.
“These are challenging times for multilateralism. We need to strengthen the global trading system to ensure that it is equipped to support a changing global economy, and that it continues to support the integration of Mozambique and other LDCs. As WTO members discuss how to modernize the organization and make the system more agile and responsive to economic change, Mozambique and the LDCs have to make their voices heard in this debate. Working together, we can ensure that more LDCs benefit from global trade, and that the global trading system is truly working for the common good.”
Protocol of the sixth meeting of the Coordinating Committee on Facilitation of Trade Procedures
Dushanbe ¹6 «21» December 2018
Head of the Committee: Minister of economic development and trade - N. Hikmatullozoda
From 24 Members of the Committee, that was established by the Decree of the Government of Tajikistan (24 December 2016, ¹529) only 19 members participated, however other members without any excuse did not participate in the meeting.
At the same time, from 12 representatives of the trade organizations and associations (Committee members) only 6 of them were present in the meeting, 6 members of the Committee did not participate in the meeting.
Moreover, representatives of International organizations and development partners participated in the meeting including ITC, UNDP, SECO, USAID, ADB, EU Delegation in Tajikistan and OSCE.
The list of participants is attached.
According to the agenda of the meeting 3 main topics were discussed:
1. Results and actions of the permanent Working Group of experts on improvement of tariff and non-tariff tools for support of domestic producers and export development
2. Tajikistan trade facilitation information portal.
3. Report of ministries and agencies on the execution of orders of the 4th and 5th meetings of the CCFTP.
Minister of economic development and trade – Head of the Committee, N. Hikmatullozoda has started the meeting by expressing gratitude to the Committee members and other participants.
It was noted that the activities of the Committee will lead to implementation of the strategic documents including National Development Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan for the period until 2030 and the National program on support of export and import substitution for the periods of 2016-2020 in order to facilitate trade procedures and increase export.
In addition, the Head of the Committee noted that the issue of bringing the favourable terms for foreign and domestic trade was addressed during the annual speech of the Founder of Peace and National Unity – Leader of Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan H.E. Emomali Rahmon to the Parliament of the Country on 22 December 2017.
The First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and trade presented a presentation on the 1st item of the meeting’s agenda (Results and actions of the permanent Working Group of experts on improvement of tariff and non-tariff tools for support of domestic producers and export development).
He has noted that the Working Group already held 8 meetings, reviewed more than 44 types of products and relevant decisions for supporting domestic producers were made.
In addition, 109 suggestions from the private sector were prepared and 137-page report with the request of implementation of the given suggestions was sent to the Government of the country.
Moreover, in the framework of the WG’s activities a number of significant tasks were completed:
- Project of the Decree of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan «On import customs duty rates of the Republic of Tajikistan» was developed and approved from 8 August 2018, ¹399
- Project of the Decree of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan «On amendments to the Decree of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan from 9 June 2018, ¹302» was developed and approved from 6 August 2018, ¹397
- 3 business entities have been supported by the amount of 15.3 mln TJS in order to establish and rehabilitate bird keeping entities
On the 2nd item of the agenda the National consultant on development of the national trade facilitation Portal presented a presentation on the structure, usage and other aspects of the mentioned Portal.
It was noted that with the support of the ITC and other International Organizations the Portal was developed and it will assist and facilitate the export, import and transit procedures.
Furthermore, the data in the Portal was approved by the relevant ministries and agencies. Portal will also help to reduce unnecessary procedures and irrelevant payments.
The Head of the IT and communication centre of the Executive Office of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan (Mirzoyon Nodir Ramazoni) suggested to get the Portal in line with the requirements of the Decree of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan from 10 July 2017, ¹344.
Also a representative of the National legislation centre suggested that the name of the Portal should be approved by the Committee of language under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan.
After that the Head of the Committee noted that the during the previous meetings of the committee the categorization of the Tajikistan’s TFA obligations were reviewed and sent to the Members of the Committee for further comments and suggestions. Members did not have any suggestions and the A, B and C categories obligations were approved. Head of the committee also instructed the executive secretary to send the A, B and C categories obligations via notification to the WTO Secretariat.
In addition, Head of the committee also reminded that the Roadmap of the committee also was reviewed and sent to the committee members for their suggestions. The Roadmap was changed with the view of Members’ suggestions and would be sent for the revision of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan.
Meanwhile, according to the agenda, the First Deputy Head of the Customs Service Tursunzoda A. H. presented a presentation on progress of implementation of action Plan in order to bring the legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan in line with the requirements of the International Convention on the simplification and harmonization of Customs procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention).
After that Members of the Committee presented their reports on the implementation of the Action Plan in order to bring the legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan in line with the requirements of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
During the meeting discussions took place and members of the committee including Head of the committee, private sector representatives and the development partners shared their views on the agenda items.
At the end of the meeting Head of the Committee noted that the protocol of the meeting should be prepared and shared with the participants of the meeting.
The following decisions were made and included to the protocol of the meeting:
1. Protocol instructions’ execution should be under monitoring of the Secretariat of the Committee;
2. Action plan of the A, B and C Categories obligations is approved and should be sent to the Secretariat of the WTO via notification;
3. Project of the Roadmap of the Committee should be sent to the Government of the country for their review;
4. Working Groups of the Committee should send reports on completed tasks to the secretariat of the Committee;
5. Working Group on improvement of tariff and non-tariff tools should take necessary measures in order to implement its’ protocol instructions and in this order support domestic producers and increase export;
6. Members of the committee should take necessary measures in order to fully implement the action plan on the compliance of the legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan with the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement;
7. Head of the WTO Affairs Department – the Executive Secretary (Abdurahmonov A.) should organize a meeting with the representatives of the Private sector in order to prepare a list of the new Members of the Committee from the number of Private sector representatives, which is going to be approved in the next meeting of the Committee;
8. Heads of the ministries and agencies, that are the members of the committee (Decree of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, 24 December 2016, ¹529) should be warned that if they won’t participate in the next meetings of the Committee, relevant reports are going to be sent to the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan.
Participating in a series of ministerial discussions during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos this week, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo reviewed the challenges and opportunities facing global trade today, and stressed that the trading system must evolve if it is to remain relevant.
The meetings included the informal ministerial gathering on WTO issues hosted by the Swiss government on 25 January. This discussion largely focused on possible reforms to the trading system, with a range of different perspectives being aired. The need to address the impasse in appointments to the WTO's Appellate Body was a common theme, along with the need to make progress in a number of other areas.
DG Azevêdo also participated, by invitation, in a Canadian-organised ministerial meeting on WTO reform which took place on 24 January; a meeting on 25 January where a group of WTO members issued a joint ministerial declaration setting out their intention to launch negotiations on electronic commerce; and a range of discussions organized by the World Economic Forum throughout the week.
Speaking at the conclusion of his program in Davos, the Director-General said:
"Trade has been at top the of the agenda in Davos. We had some very productive discussions this week across a range of meetings, and notably we've seen real progress towards negotiations that were announced on e-commerce. This is all very welcome. It is a sign of the strong and very widely-shared commitment to the global trading system. This is particularly vital now, as we face a number of significant challenges."
"The current trade tensions pose a threat to the entire international community. The risks are real and have real economic effects. But the opportunities are real too. It is in everyone's interests that we improve prospects for global trade. It is vital for jobs, growth and development around the world. This is what the WTO is all about – so we are taking action."
"First, by working urgently to ease tensions. We're facilitating conversations between members, complementing bilateral efforts. And we're helping members to resolve their disputes. Second, we are working to modernise and strengthen the global trading architecture to ensure that it can support a changing global economy. These are the key elements that we have been discussing here this week.
"The word we keep hearing is 'reform'. Members are exploring possible reforms that would help to diffuse the current tensions, fix the impasse in appointments to the Appellate Body, improve monitoring and transparency in the system, and speed up our negotiating processes both on the longstanding issues and on other initiatives that been launched more recently."
"We must do more to make the WTO work faster, and be more flexible and responsive to members' needs – building on the progress of recent years. The G20 leaders' declaration made this clear. It called for "necessary reforms" to the WTO so that it can keep playing its essential role in the global economy. All this has created a political window to modernize the WTO. We must seize that opportunity."
"We are working hard on all of this. 2019 will be a crucial year for global trade and for the WTO. We have an opportunity to tackle the systemic challenges before us and strengthen the WTO for generations to come. Ultimately our success will depend on whether members are ready for the system to evolve."
The meeting was attended by representatives from a wide range of WTO members, including representatives of the WTO Least-developed countries Group, the WTO Africa Group, and the WTO Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group. The joint statement on e-commerce was signed by 76 WTO members, which account for 90% of global trade.
WTO members in the Negotiating Group on Rules held their first cluster of fisheries subsidies meetings for the year on 14-18 January. Some members indicated they were working on proposing new draft texts covering certain areas of fisheries subsidies disciplines that WTO members had committed to agree by end-2019.
In line with the January to July 2019 work programme for fisheries subsidies negotiations agreed by the Negotiating Group, the week-long cluster of meetings was composed of a mix of bilateral talks, other member-organized discussions, and consultations open to all delegations.
The work in open-ended consultations was organized around four main topics: subsidies to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; subsidies to fishing where stocks are overfished; subsidies contributing to fishing overcapacity and to overfishing; and cross-cutting issues which include special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed members, dispute settlement, institutional issues, and notification and transparency.
Based on suggestions from members, the Chair selected four delegates to act as facilitators for each of these areas and they reported to the Negotiating Group their impressions of where the negotiations stood and what issues emerged during the week.
Some members indicated they were working with other delegations on drafting new language for certain areas of the fisheries subsidies disciplines, for consideration by the Negotiating Group. A number of delegations underlined the importance of receiving such new contributions as soon as possible.
The next cluster of fisheries subsidies meetings will be on 25 February-1 March.
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