|Free Trade Area of the Americas - FTAA|
FTAA - COMMITTEE
OF GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES ON THE PARTICIPATION OF
CONTRIBUTION IN RESPONSE TO THE OPEN AND ONGOING INVITATION
RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE MARKET ACCESS WORK SHOP
VI AMERICAS BUSINESS FORUM - BUENOS AIRES
The considerations of the Market Access Workshop had a wide representation of the business entities of the hemisphere to discuss the wide-ranging issues of the Agenda of the Official Negotiating Group and the progress made to submit a draft text of the agreement reflecting the different positions and the consensus achieved.
The Working group strongly supports the efforts made by the Governments in pursuit of the conclusion of the Agreement and looks forward to the success of the negotiations.
Entities have submitted 35 papers which have been duly analyzed within the time limitations. Thus, the Chairman put to the consideration of the attendants the material issues of the chapters under discussion, without attaching less significance to the multiple recommendations made in the presentations, the executive summaries of which are attached to these conclusions.
The plenary analyzed the following issues:
1. Schedule for negotiations:
We expressed the intention to achieve the successful completion of a complete and balanced negotiation under the “single undertaking” principle, respecting the schedule previously agreed by the parties regarding the completion of the negotiations, except in the event that all issues on the agenda can be agreed in advance.
However, regarding the date for reaching agreement regarding methods and modalities of the negotiations, the following were mentioned:
(a) That they be concluded as soon as possible, but no later than the end of 2001.
(b) That a deadline of July 2002 be established, which will apply to the recommendations regarding criteria for the negotiation of non-tariff barriers (NTBs), rules of origin and similar issues in the Negotiating group on Agriculture.
2. Modes and methods of negotiation:
The workshop ratifies the recommendation agreed upon in Toronto with respect to the fact that the asymmetrical elimination of tariffs for small economies and developing countries should be allowed. Some delegations indicated the need to apply appropriate treatment taking into account the difference in size and level of development of the Parties to the Agreement.
Relationship between the tariff negotiation and elimination of NTBs and subsidies
Given the goal of eliminating all of the non-tariff barriers to trade, participants reasserted the need to have a full inventory of NTBs and subsidies, and recommend that governments take strong measures in that respect, as a transparency requirement of negotiations. Regarding the timing to develop inventories, we have two positions:
(a) That said inventory has to be prior to the tariff negotiation commencement
(b) That a date will have to be set to complete such task
This Americas Business Forum underlines the recommendations made in the Toronto Forum with respect to the commitment of not creating new NTBs. Furthermore, we recommend the establishment of very clear and transparent rules in relation to the elimination of those in existence, because their enforcement would affect totally or partially the tariff concessions negotiated.
As regards the time limit for the elimination of the NTBs, the following different opinions have been expressed:
(a) before the commencement of the tariff reduction schedule
(b) pursuant to the schedule described as Annex to the Agreement, which shall not exceed the term of the tariff elimination and the non-compliance of which, as agreed upon in Toronto, will justify the reinstatement of tariffs.
Nomenclature of the Negotiation
Even if it may be deemed convenient to establish a nomenclature common to eight digits, the use of the HTS at 6 digits is accepted, provided the additional digits (8 or 10) may be separated with no restrictions which are deemed necessary by the countries to adequately reflect their respective productive structures. We will work upon the basis of the HTS of 1996 with the changes to be introduced in 2002.
Base Tariff Negotiation
The following recommendations have been raised
a) The MFN applied tariff
b) The tariff known prior to the beginning of the negotiations with indication of all the taxes and measures that restrict imports (peaks, quotas, tariff seasonality, etc on that date)
c) WTO bound tariffs
d) It is not necessary to establish a base tariff since preferences should be negotiated to be applied to the tariff in force at the time of the shipment of goods respecting the commitment assumed before the WTO.
The delegations of the entities represented express that the schedules should be in agreement with Art. XXIV of the GATT 1994 for substantial trade but have expressed dissent regarding the following:
a) to produce lists with three different tariff-reduction terms: immediate, 5 and 10 years
b) to make several lists with immediate and up to 20 year tariff reduction terms
c) the terms are to be agreed between the countries
The following positions been established:
a) to set linear schedules
b) to set linear schedules with a possibility of grace periods for sensitive goods
c) to set linear and non-linear schedules with options of grace periods
The delegations recommend the use of several criteria that in many cases should not be considered as excluding:
a) According to the proportions pursuant to FTAA original imports
b) According to the proportions pursuant to the trade exchange value
c) According to the proportions of lots of the tariff universe
d) Product by product depending on sensitivities and asymmetries
e) Respecting the consistency in production chains
f) Combination of various methods
g) Allowing for sectoral negotiations
h) “Zero-for-zero” initiative
Inclusion of the same product in several lists depending on the country in question:
The following possibilities have been voiced:
a) This possibility should be limited to a small number of products in each country
b) According to criteria to be determined
3. Rules of origin
The plenary recommends adopting clear, transparent, simple and controllable rules that do not block trade
Likewise, it suggests adopting the following alternative or combined criteria
a) Tariff shift and/or:
b) Regional content value and/or;
c) Specific requirements and/or;
The need to have those rules determined accurately for each tariff position in an Annex to the Agreement was also stated.
As regards the schedule of negotiation of the rules of origin two issues were expressed:
a) define them before tariff negotiation
b) define them simultaneously with this negotiation, concluding in a synchronized way the preferences agreement to be granted and the origin criterion to be used for each product and/or sector
4. Safeguard Measures
Different recommendations were expressed in relation to the enforcement of safeguard measures of the FTAA.
a) Only during the transition period
b) Permanently during the life of the agreement
c) Permanently during the life of the agreement, only for small economies
As regards the conditions for the application of the measures the delegations expressed different point of view:
a) Exclusively consider the WTO provisions
b) Establish WTO Plus provisions
c) Establish provision exclusively to remedy circumstances caused by FTAA concessions
As regards the term of the measures, different alternatives were suggested:
a) During a term determined in advance
b) Extendable for the necessary term to reestablish the feasibility of the affected division or the reallocation or the resources
As regards the compensation as a consequence of the application of the measures, the following recommendations were suggested:
a) Compensation with equivalent economic effect should be established
b) No compensation should be established
c) Only small economies should not establish compensation
Continental safeguard measures must be applied only in case of imports originating in the countries which have caused injury of threat injury as a result of the concessions negotiated in the FTAA.
Contrary to this opinion, the position was expressed that the principle of non-discrimination be maintained.
Regarding the application of provisional safeguard measures, different position was expressed:
a) They may be applied
b) They may not be applied
5. Technical Barriers and Rules
The chapter of the Agreement on technical barriers to trade must be applied to the activities of standardization, technical regulation, conformity assessment procedures and metrology activities and related rules that may affect the trade of goods between the parties. We ratify the permanent commitment to identify and eliminate the unnecessary technical obstacles to hemispheric trade, resulting from the application of such standards, technical rules, conformity assessment procedures and metrology activities.
The plenary recommends for the mandatory and voluntary area:
1. harmonization of the hemispheric technical standards and regulations
2. priority harmonization of the conformity assessment procedures, essays, certifications and accreditation
3. make progress in terms of peer assessment systems
4. establishment of mutual recognition agreements accepted by stages
5. assistance to small economies for the compliance with the previously mentioned issues
These above objectives must be established pursuant to the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and international rules.
Based upon the implementation of what has been agreed in the WTO and upon items 1 through 5, the principle of “once tested accepted everywhere” could be accepted.
We propose the creation of a special follow up group for the agenda of issues of this chapter as part of the Negotiating Group on Market Access or ad-hoc.
6. Business Facilitation Measures an Customs Procedures
This workshop would like to express its deepest concern for the delay in the effectiveness of the eight business facilitation measures approved in Toronto, and in this regard, we recommend the governments to make all the necessary efforts to fully implement such measures.
Furthermore, the following positions were expressed:
a) even if we can explore more than 100 pending initiatives, no new measures should be approved until those already agreed are effectively implemented
b) the exploration and approval of new measures should be continued.
Authorities of the Workshop:
Chairman: Andrés Concha Rodríguez
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