QATAR: Deputy Emir to open World Chambers Congress

The Deputy Emir & Heir Apparent,  H E Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani will inaugurate the ICC-WCF 8th World Chambers Congress on April 23 at Qatar National Convention Centre. The three-day biennial Congress, being held in the Middle East for the first time, features a list of high-profile speakers.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) expects a WTO agreement on trade facilitation and phasing out of farm subsidies as well as removal of food export restriction and trade barriers to IT as “tangible outcomes” this year as governments meet at Bali, Indonesia in December to revive the stalled Doha Round negotiations.

These were highlighted at a consultation paper of the ICC Business World Trade Agenda (WTA), which is being held today, in conjunction with the World Chambers Congress, which will begin tomorrow at the Qatar National Convention Centre.

The WTA – which aims for business to define, in partnerships with the governments, a 21st century world trade agenda to stimulate growth and job creation – has also called for completing the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) to advance beyond Doha. It feels global and trade and investment liberalisation could provide a debt-free and much needed boost to global economic growth.

The ICC, along with the Qatar Chamber, has suggested a five-point initiative, which includes encouragement to establish a high-standard multilateral framework on investment; liberalisation in trade in services; fostering greener economic activity through trade; reforming the WTO dispute settlement system and multilateralising trade liberalisation under WTO framework.

On the “tangible deliverables” by the 2013 Bali Ministerial, the consultation paper said a WTO agreement on trade facilitation is expected to deliver gains of at least $130bn annually with most of the gains benefiting developing countries.

An agreement on trade facilitation would “significantly” reduce costs, speed up and streamline administrative and other official procedures and create a more transparent, predictable and efficient environment for cross-border trade, it said.

The ICC recommended that developed WTO members, who have not already put in place duty-free quota-free regime, should now implement it unilaterally, while simultaneously removing as many exclusions as possible to ensure that there is the broadest possible product coverage and that other “behind-the-border” barriers do not erode the benefits of this measure.

On food export restrictions, the paper said WTO members should commit not to impose them or at least agree to exempt food shipments contracted by the World Food Programme from export restrictions.

On measures to move beyond DDA, the paper suggested moving towards a high standard multilateral framework for international investments since more than 3,000 global investment agreements exist now, protecting two-third of international foreign direct investment, but covering only one-fifth of possible bilateral investment relationship.

On liberalising trade in services, it called for concrete progress through alternative negotiating approaches, including plurilateral approaches and focus on particular sectors.

Sensing the need for fostering greener economic activity through trade, the paper suggested lowering trade barriers to environmental goods and services.

On reforming the WTO dispute settlement system, the recommendations include extension of third-party rights; improved conditions for members seeking to be joined in consultations and introduction of remand, enabling the appellate body to revert the case to the panel for factual findings.

The reforms should also address sequencing issue and other problems concerning the suspension of concessions or other obligations; enhancement of compensation as a temporary remedy for breach of the WTO law; strengthening of notification requirements for mutually agreed solutions and strengthening of special and differential treatment for developing country members.

Source: Caye Global, Gulf Times

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