WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and China’s Minister of Commerce, Mr Zhong Shan, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the event, extending the China Programme for another year. Initiated in July 2011 under the WTO’s Aid for Trade initiative, the China Programme aims to help LDCs integrate more effectively into the global economy by strengthening their participation in WTO activities and by helping those not yet members to join the Organization.
The Sixth China Round Table — held under the theme of “Strengthening the Rules-Based Multilateral Trading System and Building a Network to Promote Accessions” — was opened by DG Azevêdo, Minister Zhong and the Chair of the 11th Ministerial Conference, Minister Susana Malcorra of Argentina. The opening of the event was attended by over 150 participants.
DG Azevêdo said: “China has displayed real leadership in WTO accessions, especially through the China LDCs and Accessions Programme. The Programme is aimed at assisting LDCs in their accession processes, as well as strengthening their participation in the WTO. Since it was established in 2011, I think it has made a big contribution to our accessions work. This underlines China’s continued commitment to our work at the WTO, and to ensuring that more countries can join and benefit from the trading system.”
DG Azevêdo added: “There’s no question that accessions are an essential part of our activities. Since the creation of the WTO, we have welcomed 36 new members, massively extending the reach of the shared rules and principles in global trade. Today, WTO members account for over 98% of global trade. This is fundamental to the organization’s role as a guarantor of stability and predictability in international economic relations.” His full speech is available here.
Currently, 21 accessions are in the pipeline in the WTO, with a number of them advancing into the final stages. Last year, two LDCs – Somalia and Timor Leste – submitted applications for WTO membership and a third LDC – South Sudan – has just submitted a new application for consideration by the Ministerial Conference.
MC11 Chair Malcorra thanked China “for the work done in this Round Table. It encourages and helps those countries who are going through the accession process, and it represents a critical opportunity to promote transparency and predictability in global trade. It is clear that this process does not produce immediately opportunities as if they were gifts from heaven. Accessions require a big deal of internal work by countries, but if the defined path in place is followed opportunities will be there and this will have an impact on people’s lives.”
China’s Minister Zhong Shan stated: “China has been a consistent supporter of the WTO’s Aid for Trade initiative and has provided trade-related technical assistance to LDCs under the China Programme over the past three years. The Programme has played a positive and effective role in facilitating LDCs’ integration into the multilateral trading system. Today, we renewed our commitment to the Programme with expanded forms of cooperation. This once again demonstrates our strong support for the development of LDCs within the South-South cooperation framework. We appreciate the cooperation of the WTO Secretariat and look forward to the successful implementation of the renewed Programme.”
The China Programme provides financing to support:
- WTO accessions internships
- WTO accessions round table meetings
- LDCs’ participation in WTO meetings
- South-South dialogue on LDCs and development
- LDCs’ Trade Policy Review follow-up workshops
China announced that is providing USD 1 million for the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) Trust Fund. This money will finance training workshops for government officials from developing countries to help them implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which aims to cut the time and cost involved in moving goods across borders by streamlining customs procedures.
The TFAF — created at the request of developing countries and LDCs — has been operational since November 2014 when the General Council adopted the Trade Facilitation Agreement Protocol, inserting the new Agreement into the WTO rulebook.
Since 2008, China has contributed to the various WTO trust funds a total of USD 4.6 million.
The Sixth China Round Table also provided the framework for the launch of an Accession Negotiators Network. The objective is to create a platform for ongoing interaction among accession negotiators which will help countries on their journey to WTO membership and beyond. Over 80 former negotiators and accession experts have agreed to join the Network.
|Publication||World Trade Organization [5F]|
|Core Series||Globelex ,GPETR|
98IGO , 151WTO