ACP Trade Ministers adopt declaration for Bali

22 October 2013

During the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) Ministerial Trade Committee that met in Brussels on 9-10 October 2013, Ministers outlined the ACP countries' common position for the upcoming 9th WTO Ministerial Conference.

The Declaration emphasized the importance of securing a meaningful outcome in the areas under negotiation. Ministers urged all members to show the required flexibility in the areas of development, agriculture and trade facilitation.

According to the ACP group, the inability of WTO Members to conclude the Doha round has contributed to a proliferation of free trade agreements, and the pursuit of plurilateral agreements in areas within the scope of the Doha Agenda.

LDCs’ share of world trade is currently very low, at around 1.12 percent, with more than half of the countries of the ACP group defined as Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Development
The Declaration stresses the critical dimension of development, particularly with regard to special and differential treatment. The group expressed concerns about the “slow progress in that work”.

LDCs
Turning to least developed countries issues, ACP ministers urge the WTO to take commitment toward greater integration of the LDCs into multilateral trading system in line with the proposals put forward by the LDC group for the decision at the Ninth Ministerial Conference. The proposals relates to duty-free quota-free market access  for LDCs, simplified and flexible rules of origin for exports that qualify for duty-free, quota-free treatment, the operationalization of the LDC services waiver, and the  proposals on cotton.

ACP ministers reiterated the importance of the Enhanced Integrated Framework – a WTO programme aimed at helping LDCs play a more active role in the global trading system – and called for its extension after 2015.

Agriculture
The Declaration defined six areas of concern related to agriculture: market access, domestic support, export competition, cotton-sector issues, the right to use certain traditional trade policy tools for food security. With regard to these issues, ACP Ministers plan to address imbalances in the WTO that prevent numerous ACP countries from maintaining food security while confining them to the position of net food importing countries.

Trade Facilitation
On the theme of trade facilitation, the Declaration stressed that while ACP countries did not ask for trade facilitation in the WTO Doha Development Agenda negotiations, they nevertheless recognise the potential of such agreement that could facilitate reforms for ACP countries in the area of trade. Tot his end the ACP group further reaffirmed the need to provide LDCs with mandatory special & differential treatment.

Aid for Trade
The declaration urges donors to continue supporting efforts of developing countries, especially LDCs, to integrate into the world trading system by directing aid to trade through infrastructure, productive capacity, and costs of adjustment

Sources: ACP  Ministerial Communiqué on the 9th session of the WTO Ministerial Conference , ACP Group; ACP Declaration on the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference, ACP Group, 11 October 2013

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