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CARICOM Region Prepares For WTO 10th Ministerial Conference

Posted in: Press Releases by admin | 20 October 2015 | 6364

    BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS – In preparation for the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) 10th Ministerial Conference (MC10), Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States met to review the state of play of the WTO Doha Round of Negotiations, and their approach to preserve their interests in the context of MC10. The meeting which was held October 15‐16, 2015 in Barbados was convened by the CARICOM Secretariat, with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat. The 9th WTO Ministerial Conference, held two years ago in Bali, Indonesia, provided momentum to the Doha Round with the conclusion of negotiations on the Trade Facilitation Agreement, and Decisions on other items including, Tariff Rate Quota Administration Provisions of Agricultural Products, Public Stockholding for Food Security Purposes, Cotton, and special arrangements of interest to Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

    Importantly, in order to complete the Doha Round, the Ministers at Bali also issued a new mandate to establish a Work Programme to facilitate deeper work and consultations on a number of outstanding issues in the Doha Agenda. The issues that could be included in the Work Programme are, among others, issues relating to Industrial Goods, Agriculture, Services, and Subsidy Rules, including Fisheries Subsidies.

    WTO Members were not able to agree on the details and scope of the Work Programme by the agreed deadline of July 31, 2015. Work has however continued in Geneva to garner consensus on what exactly should constitute the deliverables of the Ministerial Conference, which will be held December 15‐18 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. To that end, the WTO Least Developed Country (LDC) Group, the Small Vulnerable Economies (SVEs) Group, and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, all to which CARICOM is strategically aligned, have presented submissions on the Work Programme to the WTO.

    During their meeting last week, CARICOM States reiterated their support for the multilateral trading system and the completion of the Doha Round of negotiations. Regardless of the outcome of MC10, a priority for CARICOM and many developing countries is to ensure that the development dimension permeates the final outcome of the Doha Round of negotiations. CARICOM States place particular emphasis on the importance of Special and Differential Treatment (SDT), including the preservation of flexibilities and improved market access with respect Small Vulnerable Economies (SVEs) in Agriculture, Industrial Goods, and Services.

    The outcomes which emanated from the discussions at the CARICOM meeting are expected to influence the discussions of the ACP Ministers of Trade, who are meeting in Brussels this week. At that meeting, the Ministers are to refine and agree on the substance of their Ministerial Declaration on the WTO Ministerial Conference, which will underscore and reaffirm their collective interests in the context of MC10. Furthermore, the outcomes of the CARICOM meeting will be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in early November 2015.