Items proposed for consideration at the next meeting of Dispute Settlement Body
The WTO Secretariat has circulated a meeting notice and list of items proposed for the next meeting, on 16 December 2016, of the Dispute Settlement Body, which consists of all WTO members and oversees legal disputes among them. The meeting notice is circulated in the form of a document officially called an “airgram”.
Azevêdo: Opportunities of e-commerce must be available to all
Speaking at the “E-commerce for Development” seminar organized by the Friends of E-commerce for Development (Argentina, Costa Rica, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uruguay) on 9 December, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo stressed the importance of engaging in conversations and information exchanges to better understand the e-commerce landscape. He said that by working in partnership, the international community can ensure that the benefits of digital trade are available for all.
Trade Policy Review Body: Annual overview of developments in the international trading environment
“Persistent” economic challenges continued to weigh on trade in 2016
Director-General Roberto Azevêdo’s annual overview of developments in the international trading system highlights the “persistent” global economic challenges in 2016 that continue to weigh on international trade. The report, which was discussed at a 9 December meeting of the WTO’s Trade Policy Review Body, urges members to work together to ensure that the benefits of trade are more widely spread and better understood.
Dates fixed for 2017 Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires
WTO members have agreed that the organization’s Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) will take place from 11 to 14 December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The dates were endorsed at a 7 December meeting of the WTO’s General Council.
General Council: Proposed agenda
WTO members initiate membership talks for Somalia and Timor-Leste
WTO members initiated membership talks for the Federal Republic of Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste at a meeting of the organization’s General Council on 7 December. Members agreed to establish working parties to negotiate membership terms for the two countries and to welcome them as observers to the WTO.
General Council: Proposed agenda
The Comoros kicks off its WTO membership negotiations
At the first meeting of the working party on the accession of the Comoros, WTO members expressed their support for its membership process and said they would work with the country to advance its accession negotiations as quickly as possible. The Comoros has set the 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11), to be held in Buenos Aires in December 2017, as the target date for the conclusion of its accession negotiations.
Gabon, Kyrgyz Republic ratify Trade Facilitation Agreement; 8 more needed for entry into force
Gabon and the Kyrgyz Republic have ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), putting the total number of ratifications from members at 102. Only 8 more ratifications are needed to bring the TFA into force.
DG Azevêdo updates ‘Geneva Week’ participants on current areas of discussion at the WTO
Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, on 6 December, addressed participants at “Geneva Week”, an event for representatives of WTO members who do not have permanent missions in Geneva. He briefed participants on his recent meetings and discussions and on the range of areas currently being discussed by WTO members in the run-up to the 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017.
Screening of arbitration hearing in US-Mexico tuna dispute
At the request of the United States in the dispute “United States – Measures Concerning the Importation, Marketing and Sale of Tuna and Tuna Products – Recourse to Article 22.6 of the DSU by the United States” (DS381), the Arbitrator has agreed to broadcast to the public a video recording of parts of the United States’ statements at the Arbitrator’s meeting with the parties. The screening will take place at WTO headquarters on 16 December.
Progress made on Environmental Goods Agreement, setting stage for further talks
Ministers and senior officials from the 18 participants in the Environmental Goods Agreement (representing 46 WTO members) met in Geneva this weekend to work towards liberalising trade on a range of important environmental goods. Constructive talks were held and progress was made, but participants were not in a position to close the existing gaps at this point. The intensive discussions set the stage for further talks in the near future.
DG Azevêdo: After a year of constructive debate at the WTO, work must intensify into 2017
At a meeting of all WTO members held today (1 December) to discuss the organization’s negotiating work, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo highlighted the progress made over the last 12 months and urged members to capitalize on this positive engagement in the New Year, particularly as members begin to look towards the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (to be held in Buenos Aires in December 2017). He also reported on his recent consultations, including a range of bilateral meetings with members in Geneva and in capitals, as well as the Cotton-4 ministerial meeting in Bamako, Mali, an informal ministerial meeting in Oslo convened and hosted by Norway, the APEC ministerial meeting in Lima, Peru, and meetings of the OECD, IMF, World Bank and the UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination.
First training course on trade in services underway for countries seeking to join the WTO
The WTO’s first Training Course on Trade in Services for Acceding Governments is taking place from 28 November to 2 December 2016 at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva. The course is being attended by 27 representatives from 14 governments seeking to join the WTO.
DG Azevêdo: Trade can boost Tunisia’s economic growth and development
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo visited Tunisia on 29 and 30 November to hold meetings with Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, Minister of Trade Zied Ladhari and Minister of Foreign Affairs Khemaies Jhinaoui. As part of his visit, he also participated in the “Tunisia 2020 conference”, where he discussed the role of trade and the WTO in helping Tunisia’s economic development.
Ecuador’s import surcharge still under review as WTO members remain divided
Most WTO members welcomed Ecuador’s efforts to lower its import surcharge rates and reduce the number of tariff lines affected by this measure at a meeting of the Committee on Balance-of-Payments Restrictions on 29 November but they remain divided on whether the measure is in conformity with WTO rules. Consultations with Ecuador will resume in April 2017. Ecuador reaffirmed its intention to phase out the import surcharge completely by June 2017, a year later than originally agreed.
Dominica, Mongolia ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement; final countdown launched
Dominica and Mongolia have ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), putting the total number of ratifications from members at 100. With just 10 more ratifications from members needed to bring the TFA into force, the final countdown begins for realizing a global deal that could boost global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion per annum by slashing trade costs and cutting red tape at the border.
WTO members reflect on work of Committee on Trade and Development and future challenges
At an event held on 24 November to mark the 100th session of the Committee on Trade and Development (CTD), WTO members and other participants reflected on how trade has evolved since the committee held its first meeting 20 years ago. They also discussed what needs to be done to ensure that trade continues to support developing countries in the future.
Dominica accepts TRIPS amendment to ease poor countries’ access to affordable medicines
Dominica deposited its instrument of acceptance for the 2005 protocol amending the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on 28 November 2016.
DG Azevêdo: “We must ensure that the gains of trade are better shared across society”
In a speech to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Global Strategy Group on 28 November, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo stressed the importance of making the case for trade amid a rise in anti-globalisation sentiment in many countries. Governments also need to work on creating a better, more inclusive model of globalisation and ensure the benefits of trade reach further and wider through new trade reforms.
WTO issues panel report regarding US tax breaks for civil aircraft production
On 28 November 2016, the WTO issued the panel report in the case brought by the European Union regarding “United States – Conditional Tax Incentives for Large Civil Aircraft” (DS487)