OECS Trade Officials to take stock of developments in the WTO

Senior Trade Officials from the OECS-WTO Member States will meet in Roseau Dominica on 28-29th April 2011 to assess the developments in the current round of negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The agenda for the two day meeting will cover all the key issues of relevance to the region including market access for agricultural and industrial goods, trade facilitation, fisheries subsidies, intellectual property rights, and services.  Matters related to development assistance to gain increased benefits from trade (Aid for Trade) will also be discussed in preparation for the Third Global Review of Aid for Trade to be held in Geneva, Switzerland in July.

The current round of negotiations which was launched in Doha, Qatar in November 2001, has experienced sporadic and limited progress due to continued divergences between developed and developing countries on market access for industrial goods.  At the end of 2010, the Director General of the WTO set out a work programme to conclude the round by the end of 2011.  A major milestone for this process is the presentation of documents which include new draft texts or reports of the state of play of negotiations across all negotiating groups.

These were circulated on April 21 and will be followed by a meeting of the WTO Trade Negotiations Committee on April 29. The TNC is the highest negotiating body of the WTO and the WTO DG has stated his intention to use that meeting to chart a way forward towards the conclusion of the Doha Round.  While some WTO members have called for a push to conclude the round, there are many who do not foresee an agreement emerging this year.

The trade officials will be updated on the state of play of the negotiations  and  will guide OECS negotiators based at its Technical Mission in Geneva in respect of key areas where  WTO members have not reached agreement in order to ensure that the region is prepared to defend its interests.

Increased market access for agricultural and industrial goods and service providers continue to be of primary importance to the OECS.  The OECS is also seeking policy flexibility to safeguard its domestic producers and support to explore market opportunities in developed countries.  With the WTO’s Geneva week for capital-based officials taking place soon after this consultation, OECS trade officials will be well briefed for their engagement with other delegates during that time.

This meeting is funded by the Caribbean Integration Support Project (CISP), an initiative under the 9th EDF which also provides funding for the operation of the OECS Technical Mission in Geneva, and the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Hub & Spokes Programme.

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