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LEGAL TEXTS: MARRAKESH AGREEMENT

Preferential Tariff treatment for Least-Developed Countries

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Decision on Waiver

Adopted on 15 June 1999(1)

Considering that the Parties to the World Trade Organization Agreement have recognized the need for positive efforts designed to ensure that developing countries, and especially the least-developed among them, secure a share in the growth in international trade commensurate with the needs of their economic development;

Considering the statements contained in the Comprehensive and Integrated WTO Plan of Action for the Least-Developed Countries adopted at the Singapore Ministerial Conference on 13 December 1996 and in the Ministerial Declaration of 20 May 1998 concerning integration of least-developed countries into the world trading system and providing predictable and favourable market access conditions for the products of such countries;

Considering the 1979 Decision on Differential and More Favourable Treatment, Reciprocity and Fuller Participation of Developing Countries and the 1994 Decision on Measures in Favour of Least-Developed Countries, and without prejudice to rights of Members to continue to act pursuant to the provisions contained in those Decisions;

Desiring to provide an additional means for developing country Members to offer preferential tariff treatment to products of least-developed countries notwithstanding the obligations of paragraph 1 of Article I of the General Agreement;

Having regard to the Guiding Principles to be followed in considering applications for waivers adopted on 1 November 1956, the Understanding in Respect of Waivers of Obligations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, and paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article IX of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (the “WTO Agreement”);

Members, acting pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 3 of Article IX of the WTO Agreement,

Decide that:

1.                   Subject to the terms and conditions set out hereunder, the provisions of paragraph 1 of Article I of the GATT 1994 shall be waived until 30 June 2009, to the extent necessary to allow developing country Members to provide preferential tariff treatment to products of least-developed countries, designated as such by the United Nations, without being required to extend the same tariff rates to like products of any other Member.

2.                   Developing country Members wishing to take actions pursuant to the provisions of this Waiver shall notify to the Council on Trade in Goods the list of all products of least-developed countries for which preferential tariff treatment is to be provided on a generalized, non-reciprocal and non-discriminatory basis and the preference margins to be accorded. Subsequent modifications to the preferences shall similarly be notified.

3.                   Any preferential tariff treatment implemented pursuant to this Waiver shall be designed to facilitate and promote the trade of least-developed countries and not to raise barriers or create undue difficulties for the trade of any other Member. Such preferential tariff treatment shall not constitute an impediment to the reduction or elimination of tariffs on a most-favoured-nation basis.

4.                   In accordance with the provisions of paragraph 4 of Article IX of the WTO Agreement, the General Council shall review annually whether the exceptional circumstances justifying the Waiver still exist and whether the terms and conditions attached to the Waiver have been met.

5.                   The government of any Member providing preferential tariff treatment pursuant to this Waiver shall, upon request, promptly enter into consultations with any interested Member with respect to any difficulty or any matter that may arise as a result of the implementation of programmes authorized by this Waiver. Where a Member considers that any benefit accruing to it under GATT 1994 may be or is being impaired unduly as a result of such implementation, such consultation shall examine the possibility of action for a satisfactory adjustment of the matter. This Waiver does not affect Members’ rights as set forth in the Understanding in Respect of Waivers of Obligations under GATT 1994.

6.                   This waiver does not affect in any way and is without prejudice to rights of Members in their actions pursuant to the provisions of the 1979 Decision on Differential and More Favourable Treatment, Reciprocity and Fuller Participation of Developing Countries.

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Note:

1.Adopted in accordance with the Decision-Making Procedures under Articles IX and XII of the WTO Agreement agreed by the General Council (WT/L/93). back to text