ICC welcomes WTO Nairobi package and urges members to continue progress
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the world business organization, welcomed decisions by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the conclusion of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference held from 15-19 December in Nairobi, Kenya.
ICC welcomed progress on agriculture, including the decision to eliminate subsidies for agricultural exports; decisions to facilitate market access for least-developed countries (LDCs), especially those to simplify preferential rules of origin for LDC exports and to grant preferential access to services exports from LDCs; and the decisions on trade in cotton, which are all of particular importance to LDCs and Africa.
ICC Secretary General John Danilovich: “These decisions will foster the greater integration of least-developed countries into the global trading system and make it easier for them to seize trade opportunities. They also show how the WTO and multilateral trade can advance the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals”.
ICC strongly supports the reaffirmation by WTO members of “the pre-eminence of the WTO as the global forum for trade rules setting and governance, and the recognition of “the role the WTO can play in contributing towards achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals”.
ICC saluted WTO members’ recognition of “the need to ensure that Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) remain complementary to, and not a substitute for, the multilateral trading system” and the decision to “instruct the WTO Committee on Regional Trade Agreements to discuss the systemic implications of RTAs and their relationship with WTO rules”.
These decisions will foster the greater integration of least-developed countries into the global trading system and make it easier for them to seize trade opportunities.
Chair of the ICC Commission on Trade and Investment Policy James Bacchus said: “To ensure the effectiveness of the WTO in negotiating global trade rules, it will be essential for the WTO to continue making progress toward concluding multilateral agreements on core elements of its work programme, as well as to find the necessary flexibility to move forward on other issues in different configurations.”
ICC also welcomed the decision taken during the Nairobi WTO Ministerial Conference to agree on the timetable for expanding product coverage under the WTO Information Technology Agreement. The successful conclusion of the “ITA2” negotiations will eliminate tariffs on 201 information technology products valued at US$1.3 trillion per year. “Freer global trade in information technology products could be particularly beneficial to small- and medium-sized enterprises, especially in developing countries, by enabling them to access foreign markets through digitally-enabled trade,” said Mr Danilovich.
The announcement of six additional ratifications of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement by WTO members during the Ministerial, bringing the total number of ratifications to 63, is seen as a very positive development by ICC. “ICC strongly supports the speedy ratification and implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement,” said ICC Chairman Terry McGraw.