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WTO NEWS: 2001 NEWS ITEMS

18 October 2001
Working Party set to examine ACP-EC Partnership Agreement

The Council for Trade in Goods, on 17 October 2001, agreed on the terms of reference and appointed the chair of a Working Party that will examine a request by the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) countries and the European Community for a WTO waiver on their new Partnership Agreement.

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The Working Party, chaired by Ms. Margaret Liang of Singapore, will examine the waiver request in light of relevant WTO provisions and report back to the Goods Council. Under WTO rules, the Goods Council has a period of 90 days to consider the waiver request, at the end of which it shall submit a report to the Ministerial Conference.

The ACP countries and the EC are seeking a waiver from the WTO's most-favoured-nation clause because their agreement provides for EC preferential treatment for goods originating in ACP countries. The ACP-EC Agreement supersedes the Fourth Lomé Convention.

During the meeting, the Goods Council agreed to grant the following waiver extensions and submit them to the General Council for approval:

  • Extension until 1 July 2003 of a waiver granted to the Dominican Republic from the Customs Valuation Agreement for using minimum import prices to some 30 products.
      

  • Extension until 31 December 2006 of a waiver granted to Cuba from a GATT provision requiring WTO members that are not members of the International Monetary Fund to sign a special exchange agreement with the WTO.

On another matter, the Slovak Republic again urged the Council to adopt a decision disapproving what it described as unilateral measures by Poland on imports of margarine and butter from the Slovak Republic. Poland said its action was in response to the Slovak Republic's safeguard measure on imports of sugar from Poland, and that it conformed with the provisions of the Safeguards Agreement.

Several members suggested this case be discussed in the Safeguards Committee. The Council Chairman, Ambassador Istvan Major of Hungary, said he would consult with interested parties on how to move this case forward.

The Chairman reported that consultations were continuing on requests by seven members (Argentina, Colombia, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania and Thailand) for a second extension of their transition period for implementing the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs). He proposed, and the Council agreed, to convene on short notice a meeting to consider the results of these consultations.