HANDBOOK ON ACCESSION TO THE WTO: CHAPTER 5
Substance of Accession Negotiations
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Introduction and summary
Accession in perspective
The basic rules
Technical assistance and training for acceding countries
The accession process — the procedures and how they have been applied
Substance of accession negotiations
Economic policies back to top
The main aim of this section of the Working Party Report, and the following part dealing with the framework for making and enforcing policies affecting trade in goods and services, is to provide Members with an understanding of the context within which the applicant’s WTO obligations on specific trade policy measures will operate. Certain information requested is relevant to specific WTO provisions. Discussion in the Working Parties has focussed on the following subjects: monetary and fiscal policies; foreign exchange and payments, including balance of payments measures; investment regime; State ownership and privatization; pricing policies and competition policy.
Monetary and fiscal policies
Experience indicates that information submitted by applicants on monetary policy and fiscal policy should include the objectives pursued, the responsible agencies and the policy instruments used. Summaries of fiscal policies should indicate if any tax reforms have been undertaken and any changes planned. Applicants should also indicate whether they have achieved their objectives in this area and give an account of the present situation.
The aspects of taxation covered by the rules of GATT 1994 are the subject of the sections on the application of internal taxes to imports and exports. There are no provisions in GATS on taxation.
Discussion of this item in Working Parties has usually been brief and there are no Protocol commitments in this section of their Reports.
Foreign exchange and payments
Applicants need to describe how their exchange rate is determined, whether their currency is convertible, whether foreign exchange is freely available for trade and payments purposes, whether any regulations exist relating to the retention of foreign currencies, or repatriation or surrender requirements. Applicants should also describe their balance of payments situation.
While foreign exchange questions are within the jurisdiction of the IMF and trade policy questions within the competence of the WTO,128 foreign exchange questions and trade policy questions are interrelated. Of most direct relevance to the WTO is whether foreign exchange is freely available in payment for current account transactions, as exporters need to know how they will be paid. The WTO therefore recognizes this interrelationship. The GATT 1994 provides that Members must not, by exchange action, frustrate the intent of its provisions and that they must either be members of the Fund or enter into a special exchange agreement with the WTO.129 GATS provides that Members must allow international transfers and payments for current transactions relating to specific commitments entered into under that agreement.130
Working Parties have been careful to respect the competence of the IMF. While Members have demonstrated an interest in obtaining adequate information on all matters dealt with in this section, they have laid stress on issues of direct relevance to international trade. They have, for instance, focussed on knowing whether applicants are members of the IMF and whether they have accepted Article VIII of its Articles of Agreement which provides that “no member shall, without the approval of the Fund, impose restrictions on the making of payments and transfers for current international transactions”. They have been particularly concerned that foreign exchange controls may be used to regulate the level and composition of trade in goods and services.
All Working Party Reports but one have been able to note, that the acceding government concerned is a member of the IMF and has accepted its Article VIII obligations. The great majority of WTO Members do not pursue the matter further. In the case of the one applicant that was not a member of IMF, members noted that it would have to enter into “a Special Exchange Agreement as provided for in Article XV:6 of the GATT 1994 incorporating obligations consistent with Fund Article VIII”, which it duly did.131
In one case an acceder responded to concerns that elements of its foreign exchange system provided scope for practices that distorted trade flows by stating that in the context of accession to the WTO, it was prepared to comply with the provisions of Article XV of the GATT 1994 regarding its foreign exchange restrictions.132 Similar concerns were raised in two other cases. The two acceding countries accepted a Protocol commitment that, in accordance with these obligations, and unless otherwise provided for in the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, they would implement its obligations with respect to foreign exchange matters in accordance with the provisions of the WTO Agreement and related declarations and decisions of the WTO that concerned the IMF. They further committed that they would not resort to any laws, regulations or other measures, including any requirements with respect to contractual terms, that would restrict the availability to any individual or enterprise of foreign exchange for current international transactions within its customs territory to an amount related to the foreign exchange inflows attributable to that individual or enterprise.133 One of these acceders stated, in addition, that it “would provide information on exchange measures as required under Article VIII, Section 5 of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, and such other information on its exchange measures as was deemed necessary in the context of the transitional review mechanism.”134 The other committed not only to implement its obligations with respect to foreign exchange matters in accordance with the provisions of the WTO Agreement and related declarations and decisions of the WTO that concerned the IMF but also with the relevant provisions of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement itself.135
GATT 1994 permits the imposition of quantitative restrictions to deal with balance of payments difficulties, Article XII regulating its use by developed countries and Article XVIII:B its use by developing countries. WTO Members maintaining such measures must consult with the WTO. While not modifying these rights and obligations, the Uruguay Round Understanding on this subject confirmed Members’ commitment to give preference to price-based measures. Only one acceding country actually maintained balance of payments measures at the time of its accession, these taking the form of an import surcharge. Its Protocol commitment on the subject contained a timetable for its reduction and elimination and arrangements for consultations with the WTO.136 In a limited number of other cases Working Parties have judged it necessary to obtain a commitment from applicants on balance of payments measures they might take in the future. Four accepted the commitments along the following lines: “If balance-of-payment measures were ever necessary in the future, [X] would impose them in a manner consistent with the relevant WTO provisions, including Article XII of the GATT 1994 and the Understanding on Balance-of-Payments Provisions of the GATT 1994”.137 They were therefore treated as developed countries. One LDC accepted the same commitment, modified to refer to Article XVIII.138 Curiously, the other LDC to have acceded accepted a commitment to impose any balance of payments measures in a manner consistent with both Article XII and Article XVIII.139 In another case the relevant GATT 1994 provision was not cited but the new Member undertook a commitment to “give preference to those measures referred to in the Understanding on the Balance of Payments Provisions of GATT 1994 as price-based measures to address the situation and [to] maintain any measures only so long as necessary. In the circumstance that [it] must resort to measures that were not price-based, [it] would transform these measures into price-based measures within 6 months after implementing the initial measures. Moreover, any measures taken for balance-of-payment reasons would not be used to provide import protection for specific sectors, industries or products”.140
Investment policies are closely related to trade policies and applicants are requested to provide a summary of their investment policies. They should provide details of: the objectives of the policies; the legislative framework; the government entities responsible for implementation; incentives granted to domestic and foreign investors; bans and restrictions on such investment (e.g. sectors closed to foreign investment, limitations on percentage of ownership); conditions imposed on investment (e.g. technology transfer, domestic purchasing and trade-balancing requirements); approval procedures; access to sources of capital, land and national resources, visas and residence permits, etc; right of foreign investors to initiate legal proceedings and to repatriate profits. In particular, any differences between the treatment of domestic and foreign investment should be indicated. Any international investment agreements should be listed.
A number of provisions of GATT 1994 relate specifically to investment policies. The Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs), which confirms that domestic purchasing and trade-balancing requirements are contrary to the GATT rules on national treatment and quantitative restrictions, is the subject of a separate section below under the heading Trade in Goods. The provisions of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM Agreement) relate, inter alia, to subsidies providing investment incentives. The GATS deals with investment in that its definition of trade, unlike that of the GATT, includes the supply of a service by a supplier of one Member through commercial presence in the territory of another Member, which often requires investment. While the 1996 Ministerial Conference launched work in the WTO on the interaction between trade and investment, many Members opposed the initiation of negotiations on the subject in the WTO and it was effectively dropped from the agenda at the 2003 Ministerial Conference.141
Policies covered by the TRIMs Agreement, the SCM Agreement and the GATS are normally dealt with under the headings devoted to these subjects with only a few exceptions. Three acceding countries were permitted to confirm that their new legislation would conform to WTO obligations before it was completed.142 In one case, the acceding country confirmed that “the terms and conditions of technology transfer, production processes or other proprietary knowledge, particularly in the context of an investment, would only require agreement between the parties to the investment”.143 In another case, an acceding country undertook commitments relating to the rights of foreign investors that had established joint ventures under its legislation on investment and enterprises and to the transparency of amendments or deletions to the list of prohibited or conditional investment sectors.144
128. GATT 1994, Article XV:1. back to text
129. GATT 1994, Article XV:6 to 8. back to text
130. GATS Article XI. back to text
131. Chinese Taipei para 10. The Special Exchange Agreement between the WTO and Chinese Taipei forms an integral part of Chinese Taipei’s Protocol of Accession (see Annex II of Chinese Taipei’s Protocol of Accession). back to text
132. Chinese Taipei, para 10. back to text
133. Viet Nam, para 31; China, paras 36 and 40. back to text
134. China, para 37. The transitional review mechanism is dealt with in Box 5 above. back to text
135. Viet Nam, para 31. back to text
136. Bulgaria, para 29. back to text
137. Tonga, para 14; Albania, para 65; Georgia, para 65; Estonia, para 65. back to text
138. Cambodia, para 82. back to text
139. Nepal, para 50. back to text
140. Chinese Taipei, para 88. back to text
141. WTO document WT/L/579, para 1.g: “no work towards negotiations on [this issue] will take place within the WTO during the Doha Round”. back to text
142. Tonga, para 24 (no benefits would be made contingent, in law or in fact, on export performance, import substitution or local content requirements); Saudi Arabia, para 69 (hiring and employment restrictions to be in conformity with Schedule of Specific Commitments on Services); China, para 42 (revision of investment guidelines would be in conformity with the WTO Agreement). back to text
143. China, para 49. back to text
144. Viet Nam, para 117. back to text
A Working Party to examine the application of Iraq was established at the General Council meeting of 13 December 2004. Iraq submitted its Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime in September 2005. The Working Party met for a second time in April 2008 to continue the examination of Iraq’s foreign trade regime.
Status of accession working party back to top
For an explanation, see: “How to become a member of the WTO”
30 September 2004
Working Party Established
H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale
(Morocco, May 2009 — )
H.E. Mrs. Claudia Uribe
(Colombia, Dec 2006 — May 2009)
13 December 2004
16 September 2005
Questions and Replies
28 November 2006
Meetings of the Working Party
25 May 2007
2 April 2008
(a) Additional Questions & Replies
8 December 2008
(b) Information on agriculture (WT/ACC/4)
24 March 2010
(c) Information on services (WT/ACC/5)
(d) SPS/TBT checklists (WT/ACC/8)
LEGAL TEXTS: GATT 1947 The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1947)
(Article I — XVII)
This Appendix contains the complete text of the General Agreement together with all the amendments which became effective since its entry into force. For the convenience of the reader, asterisks mark the portions of the text which should be read in conjunction with notes and supplementary provisions in Annex I of the Agreement.
The Governments of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Kingdom of Belgium, the United States of Brazil, Burma, Canada, Ceylon, the Republic of Chile, the Republic of China, the Republic of Cuba, the Czechoslovak Republic, the French Republic, India, Lebanon, the Grand-Duchy of Luxemburg, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Kingdom of Norway, Pakistan, Southern Rhodesia, Syria, the Union of South Africa, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America:
Recognizing that their relations in the field of trade and economic endeavour should be conducted with a view to raising standards of living, ensuring full employment and a large and steadily growing volume of real income and effective demand, developing the full use of the resources of the world and expanding the production and exchange of goods,
Being desirous of contributing to these objectives by entering into reciprocal and mutually advantageous arrangements directed to the substantial reduction of tariffs and other barriers to trade and to the elimination of discriminatory treatment in international commerce,
Have through their Representatives agreed as follows:
Article I: General Most-Favoured-Nation Treatment back to top
1. With respect to customs duties and charges of any kind imposed on or in connection with importation or exportation or imposed on the international transfer of payments for imports or exports, and with respect to the method of levying such duties and charges, and with respect to all rules and formalities in connection with importation and exportation, and with respect to all matters referred to in paragraphs 2 and 4 of Article III,* any advantage, favour, privilege or immunity granted by any contracting party to any product originating in or destined for any other country shall be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the like product originating in or destined for the territories of all other contracting parties.
2. The provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article shall not require the elimination of any preferences in respect of import duties or charges which do not exceed the levels provided for in paragraph 4 of this Article and which fall within the following descriptions:
(a) Preferences in force exclusively between two or more of the territories listed in Annex A, subject to the conditions set forth therein;
(b) Preferences in force exclusively between two or more territories which on July 1, 1939, were connected by common sovereignty or relations of protection or suzerainty and which are listed in Annexes B, C and D, subject to the conditions set forth therein;
(c) Preferences in force exclusively between the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba;
(d) Preferences in force exclusively between neighbouring countries listed in Annexes E and F.
3. The provisions of paragraph 1 shall not apply to preferences between the countries formerly a part of the Ottoman Empire and detached from it on July 24, 1923, provided such preferences are approved under paragraph 5(1), of Article XXV which shall be applied in this respect in the light of paragraph 1 of Article XXIX.
4. The margin of preference* on any product in respect of which a preference is permitted under paragraph 2 of this Article but is not specifically set forth as a maximum margin of preference in the appropriate Schedule annexed to this Agreement shall not exceed:
(a) in respect of duties or charges on any product described in such Schedule, the difference between the most-favoured-nation and preferential rates provided for therein; if no preferential rate is provided for, the preferential rate shall for the purposes of this paragraph be taken to be that in force on April 10, 1947, and, if no most-favoured-nation rate is provided for, the margin shall not exceed the difference between the most-favoured-nation and preferential rates existing on April 10, 1947;
(b) in respect of duties or charges on any product not described in the appropriate Schedule, the difference between the most-favoured-nation and preferential rates existing on April 10, 1947.
In the case of the contracting parties named in Annex G, the date of April 10, 1947, referred to in subparagraph (a) and (b) of this paragraph shall be replaced by the respective dates set forth in that Annex.
Article II: Schedules of Concessions back to top
1. (a) Each contracting party shall accord to the commerce of the other contracting parties treatment no less favourable than that provided for in the appropriate Part of the appropriate Schedule annexed to this Agreement.
(b) The products described in Part I of the Schedule relating to any contracting party, which are the products of territories of other contracting parties, shall, on their importation into the territory to which the Schedule relates, and subject to the terms, conditions or qualifications set forth in that Schedule, be exempt from ordinary customs duties in excess of those set forth and provided therein. Such products shall also be exempt from all other duties or charges of any kind imposed on or in connection with the importation in excess of those imposed on the date of this Agreement or those directly and mandatorily required to be imposed thereafter by legislation in force in the importing territory on that date.
(c) The products described in Part II of the Schedule relating to any contracting party which are the products of territories entitled under Article I to receive preferential treatment upon importation into the territory to which the Schedule relates shall, on their importation into such territory, and subject to the terms, conditions or qualifications set forth in that Schedule, be exempt from ordinary customs duties in excess of those set forth and provided for in Part II of that Schedule. Such products shall also be exempt from all other duties or charges of any kind imposed on or in connection with importation in excess of those imposed on the date of this Agreement or those directly or mandatorily required to be imposed thereafter by legislation in force in the importing territory on that date. Nothing in this Article shall prevent any contracting party from maintaining its requirements existing on the date of this Agreement as to the eligibility of goods for entry at preferential rates of duty.
2. Nothing in this Article shall prevent any contracting party from imposing at any time on the importation of any product:
(a) a charge equivalent to an internal tax imposed consistently with the provisions of paragraph 2 of Article III* in respect of the like domestic product or in respect of an article from which the imported product has been manufactured or produced in whole or in part;
(b) any anti-dumping or countervailing duty applied consistently with the provisions of Article VI;*
(c) fees or other charges commensurate with the cost of services rendered.
3. No contracting party shall alter its method of determining dutiable value or of converting currencies so as to impair the value of any of the concessions provided for in the appropriate Schedule annexed to this Agreement.
4. If any contracting party establishes, maintains or authorizes, formally or in effect, a monopoly of the importation of any product described in the appropriate Schedule annexed to this Agreement, such monopoly shall not, except as provided for in that Schedule or as otherwise agreed between the parties which initially negotiated the concession, operate so as to afford protection on the average in excess of the amount of protection provided for in that Schedule. The provisions of this paragraph shall not limit the use by contracting parties of any form of assistance to domestic producers permitted by other provisions of this Agreement.*
5. If any contracting party considers that a product is not receiving from another contracting party the treatment which the first contracting party believes to have been contemplated by a concession provided for in the appropriate Schedule annexed to this Agreement, it shall bring the matter directly to the attention of the other contracting party. If the latter agrees that the treatment contemplated was that claimed by the first contracting party, but declares that such treatment cannot be accorded because a court or other proper authority has ruled to the effect that the product involved cannot be classified under the tariff laws of such contracting party so as to permit the treatment contemplated in this Agreement, the two contracting parties, together with any other contracting parties substantially interested, shall enter promptly into further negotiations with a view to a compensatory adjustment of the matter.
6. (a) The specific duties and charges included in the Schedules relating to contracting parties members of the International Monetary Fund, and margins of preference in specific duties and charges maintained by such contracting parties, are expressed in the appropriate currency at the par value accepted or provisionally recognized by the Fund at the date of this Agreement. Accordingly, in case this par value is reduced consistently with the Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund by more than twenty per centum, such specific duties and charges and margins of preference may be adjusted to take account of such reduction; provided that the CONTRACTING PARTIES (i.e., the contracting parties acting jointly as provided for in Article XXV) concur that such adjustments will not impair the value of the concessions provided for in the appropriate Schedule or elsewhere in this Agreement, due account being taken of all factors which may influence the need for, or urgency of, such adjustments.
(b) Similar provisions shall apply to any contracting party not a member of the Fund, as from the date on which such contracting party becomes a member of the Fund or enters into a special exchange agreement in pursuance of Article XV.
7. The Schedules annexed to this Agreement are hereby made an integral part of Part I of this Agreement.
Article III*: National Treatment on Internal Taxation and Regulation back to top
1. The contracting parties recognize that internal taxes and other internal charges, and laws, regulations and requirements affecting the internal sale, offering for sale, purchase, transportation, distribution or use of products, and internal quantitative regulations requiring the mixture, processing or use of products in specified amounts or proportions, should not be applied to imported or domestic products so as to afford protection to domestic production.*
2. The products of the territory of any contracting party imported into the territory of any other contracting party shall not be subject, directly or indirectly, to internal taxes or other internal charges of any kind in excess of those applied, directly or indirectly, to like domestic products. Moreover, no contracting party shall otherwise apply internal taxes or other internal charges to imported or domestic products in a manner contrary to the principles set forth in paragraph 1.*
3. With respect to any existing internal tax which is inconsistent with the provisions of paragraph 2, but which is specifically authorized under a trade agreement, in force on April 10, 1947, in which the import duty on the taxed product is bound against increase, the contracting party imposing the tax shall be free to postpone the application of the provisions of paragraph 2 to such tax until such time as it can obtain release from the obligations of such trade agreement in order to permit the increase of such duty to the extent necessary to compensate for the elimination of the protective element of the tax.
4. The products of the territory of any contracting party imported into the territory of any other contracting party shall be accorded treatment no less favourable than that accorded to like products of national origin in respect of all laws, regulations and requirements affecting their internal sale, offering for sale, purchase, transportation, distribution or use. The provisions of this paragraph shall not prevent the application of differential internal transportation charges which are based exclusively on the economic operation of the means of transport and not on the nationality of the product.
5. No contracting party shall establish or maintain any internal quantitative regulation relating to the mixture, processing or use of products in specified amounts or proportions which requires, directly or indirectly, that any specified amount or proportion of any product which is the subject of the regulation must be supplied from domestic sources. Moreover, no contracting party shall otherwise apply internal quantitative regulations in a manner contrary to the principles set forth in paragraph 1.*
6. The provisions of paragraph 5 shall not apply to any internal quantitative regulation in force in the territory of any contracting party on July 1, 1939, April 10, 1947, or March 24, 1948, at the option of that contracting party; Provided that any such regulation which is contrary to the provisions of paragraph 5 shall not be modified to the detriment of imports and shall be treated as a customs duty for the purpose of negotiation.
7. No internal quantitative regulation relating to the mixture, processing or use of products in specified amounts or proportions shall be applied in such a manner as to allocate any such amount or proportion among external sources of supply.
8. (a) The provisions of this Article shall not apply to laws, regulations or requirements governing the procurement by governmental agencies of products purchased for governmental purposes and not with a view to commercial resale or with a view to use in the production of goods for commercial sale.
• ANOTHER reason why IRAQ needs to get THEIR OWN laws passed. ESPECIALLY the Tariff Law! IMO
(b) The provisions of this Article shall not prevent the payment of subsidies exclusively to domestic producers, including payments to domestic producers derived from the proceeds of internal taxes or charges applied consistently with the provisions of this Article and subsidies effected through governmental purchases of domestic products.
9. The contracting parties recognize that internal maximum price control measures, even though conforming to the other provisions of this Article, can have effects prejudicial to the interests of contracting parties supplying imported products. Accordingly, contracting parties applying such measures shall take account of the interests of exporting contracting parties with a view to avoiding to the fullest practicable extent such prejudicial effects.
10. The provisions of this Article shall not prevent any contracting party from establishing or maintaining internal quantitative regulations relating to exposed cinematograph films and meeting the requirements of Article IV.
1. Goods (including baggage), and also vessels and other means of transport, shall be deemed to be in transit across the territory of a contracting party when the passage across such territory, with or without trans-shipment, warehousing, breaking bulk, or change in the mode of transport, is only a portion of a complete journey beginning and terminating beyond the frontier of the contracting party across whose territory the traffic passes. Traffic of this nature is termed in this article “traffic in transit”.
2. There shall be freedom of transit through the territory of each contracting party, via the routes most convenient for international transit, for traffic in transit to or from the territory of other contracting parties. No distinction shall be made which is based on the flag of vessels, the place of origin, departure, entry, exit or destination, or on any circumstances relating to the ownership of goods, of vessels or of other means of transport.
3. Any contracting party may require that traffic in transit through its territory be entered at the proper custom house, but, except in cases of failure to comply with applicable customs laws and regulations, such traffic coming from or going to the territory of other contracting parties shall not be subject to any unnecessary delays or restrictions and shall be exempt from customs duties and from all transit duties or other charges imposed in respect of transit, except charges for transportation or those commensurate with administrative expenses entailed by transit or with the cost of services rendered.
4. All charges and regulations imposed by contracting parties on traffic in transit to or from the territories of other contracting parties shall be reasonable, having regard to the conditions of the traffic.
5. With respect to all charges, regulations and formalities in connection with transit, each contracting party shall accord to traffic in transit to or from the territory of any other contracting party treatment no less favourable than the treatment accorded to traffic in transit to or from any third country.*
6. Each contracting party shall accord to products which have been in transit through the territory of any other contracting party treatment no less favourable than that which would have been accorded to such products had they been transported from their place of origin to their destination without going through the territory of such other contracting party. Any contracting party shall, however, be free to maintain its requirements of direct consignment existing on the date of this Agreement, in respect of any goods in regard to which such direct consignment is a requisite condition of eligibility for entry of the goods at preferential rates of duty or has relation to the contracting party’s prescribed method of valuation for duty purposes.
7. The provisions of this Article shall not apply to the operation of aircraft in transit, but shall apply to air transit of goods (including baggage).
• YET ANOTHER reason the Maliki Government needs to be eliminated.. Until Iraq can come to the table and agree on certain LAWS, their economy will only grow to a certain extent IMO.. Then level off.. I do believe in reading this so far, even if IRAQ may or may not have to have a tradable currency to become a member, they definitely need to have their own internal LAWS in place...