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Liberia becomes WTO member

National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) Vice President for Global Trade Issues Jake Colvin said the “WTO appears to have done a couple of things to demonstrate its importance as a trade body today, but it’s disappointing that delegations could not shake off the Doha round albatross completely”. The elimination of export subsidies has been a goal that successive New Zealand Ministers and trade negotiators have worked tirelessly toward for decades.

New-generation semi-conductors, medical products including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, printed circuits and satellites are all included in the deal, the WTO said.

After a tough week of negotiations important decisions have been taken to improve rules on agricultural trade. “The process was not ideal, but we have delivered”.

World Trade Organisation ministers have set 2020 as an end date for export subsidy use by developed countries and 2022/3 as the end date for key developing countries.

The member states also agreed on the extension to period of granting patents for 17 years. The ministers agreed the food security initiatives would allow food stockpiles until 2017.

Azevedo said the outcome of the conference on eliminating the domestic support to large scale producers of food was historic. It removes distortions and helps create a level playing field.

Delegations were also still far apart on ending export subsidies for farming products, he added.

The Doha Round of negotiations launched in 2001 have remained stalled since July 2008 due to differences between the rich and the developing nations mainly on the level of protection to farmers in developing countries.

Furthermore, the deal opens up opportunities for the poorest and most vulnerable developing countries to integrate better into the global trading system.

“We achieved a package of outcomes which would contribute to development”.

“We are at a stage where surprises sprung on us on topics which have not reached a conclusion in Geneva“, she said.

In 1996 the WTO eliminated tariffs on a number of technology products, such as semiconductors, computers, and telecommunications equipment under the Information Technology Agreement (ITA).

“Nor has it cut trade-distorting subsidies by one dollar… that must be a sobering reflection for all of us”.

The decision was made at the 10th Ministerial Conference which is now underway, as officials unanimously voted for Liberia to join the WTO.

“We need to work really hard to be on time”.

“Members have different views on how to address the negotiations”, it said. We are optimistic it shall be done,”she said”.

Fourteen years of tortuous global trade talks will end in failure this week unless there is a sudden and unexpected end to the impasse between developed and developing countries that has bedevilled negotiations.

The World Trade Organisation’s ministerial conference in Nairobi concluded on Saturday, with the fate of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) still uncertain and no significant progress on the contentious issues of public stockholding of food crops and special safeguard mechanism in agriculture.

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