Notification of state trading enterprises Back
What is the notification obligation?
Article XVII of the
GATT 1994 contains (in its paragraph 4) the obligation, which applies to all WTO Members,
to notify the products which are imported into or exported from their territories by state
trading enterprises. The notifications are to be made in the form of a response to a
questionnaire (revised most recently in April 1998). A copy of this questionnaire is
circulated in an Annex to the request for notifications. The first request for such
notifications under the WTO régime is found in document G/STR/N/1 dated 13 March 1995.
The 1998 revised questionnaire will be the basis for the 1998 and subsequent year
the WTO Understanding on Article XVII elaborates on the notification requirement and
reaffirms certain aspects of it:
- it provides
a definition of the term "state trading enterprise" for the purpose of
determining what kinds of enterprises must be notified;
- it states
that all state trading enterprises are to be notified, whether or not imports or
exports of the products they handle have taken place during the reporting period; and
reaffirms that each WTO Member without exception is to submit a
notification. whether or not it maintains any state trading enterprises.
Which WTO members must notify? Back
Members, without exception, whether or not they have any state trading enterprises, must
notify. Thus, if a Member has no state trading, it must submit a notification so
indicating (i.e. a nil notification). Further, if a Member maintains a state trading
enterprise, but that enterprise has not undertaken any imports or exports during the
period covered, the Member must nevertheless notify by responding to the questionnaire.
What exactly is to be notified? Back
enterprise which fits the definition contained in paragraph 1 of the Understanding on
Article XVII must be notified by responding to the revised questionnaire. The latter seeks
the following information:
Description of the products affected
Reason or purpose for establishing/maintaining the STE
Summary of the legal basis for the granting of the exclusive or special right or privilege
to the STE
Description of the functioning of the STE
Statistical information on imports, exports and domestic production.
When, and how often, is the notification to be
Back to top
notification obligation is annual and on the basis of a three-year cycle: in the first
year of the cycle, what is called a "new and full" notification is to be
made which provides the full picture of the Member's state trading activities. Such
notifications should take the form of a full response to the revised questionnaire, except
of course where the Member has no such enterprises to notify, in which case a nil
notification should be made.
In each of
the intervening two years, an updating notification is to be made which indicates
any changes in the state trading picture since the previous year's notification. Here
again, even where there are no changes to report, a notification must be made to this
What happens to the notifications once
they are made?
Back to top
notifications are circulated to all WTO Members as unrestricted documents in the series
"G/STR/N/--". Each notification comes before the Working Party individually for
collective review by WTO Members. During these reviews, Members may pose questions to the
notifying Member. Where a written question is submitted, a written response is required.
All of the written questions and answers are circulated as WTO documents in the series
"G/STR/Q1/--". Further, any Member may make a counter-notification where
it feels that a notification by another Member is either incomplete or incorrect. While
thus far no counter-notifications have been made, the substance of some of the written
questions submitted could be considered as counter-notifications.