WTO First Ever Trade Deal Bali 2013

Below find some notes and analysis of Joyce Naar, a lawyer writing and advocating on African, Caribbean and Pacific cooperation with the EU, Asia, Latin America with the goal of improving the information and communication on ACP issues, to make ACP countries and their population and their interests more visible and to have their voices heard. Ms. Naar specialized in CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA); ACP - EU Cooperation Agreements.

"Trade Facilitation on customs procedures considered more important for EU market access in ACP than market access negotiations (EPAs, etc)"



Trade Facilitation

  • Agreement on Trade Facilitation — Draft Ministerial Decision — WT/MIN(13)/W/8

"These are the Bali Ministerial Declaration and the ministerial decisions that were adopted on 7 December 2013. Although the documents say “draft”, they have been formally adopted. The final versions are being prepared and will replace the draft forms in due course."

The agreement on trade facilitation requires from all states that they provide the data about

  • their importation, exportation and transit procedures,
  • applied rates of duties and taxes, fee and charges,
  • rules, laws, regulations,
  • import, export or transit restrictions or prohibitions,
  • penalty provisions,
  • appeal procedures,
  • agreements with other countries,
  • procedures relating to the administration of tariff suotas.

Section II provides for special and differential treatment for developing countries and LDCS,  who are not able to produce these data, and should ask for technical assistance from donors and international organizations who will assist them to collect their data to publish it in order to enable governments, traders and other interested parties become acquainted with them!

There are 3 categories of provisions, a, b, c, stating the conditions and when they have to designate for implementation.

Entry into force by acceptance of 2/3 of the members according to art 10 .3 WTO agreement.

Analysis :

  • The agreement on trade facilitation text urges all countries to adopt the customs procedures which are standards in the advanced industrial countries and most major emerging economies have already voluntarily adopted and are up to their level of economic development.
  • Developing countries must make important legal, political and infrastructural reforms to comply with these standards. 
  • Even the weak commitments agreed at the beginning of the Bali conference were deleted, for example references to financial support have been deleted from the text.
  • Moreover, the new binding rules adopted deprive developing countries the means they could use to mobilize their own resources to meet these changes.
  • Above all, instead of simplifying customs procedures, the text introduces new process that will allow foreign companies to have an undue influence on the customs of ACP countries and reduce the role of internal customs operators, which puts more in jeopardize programmes to promote intra -ACP trade and regional integration.
  • WTO agreements have been pushed by the advanced countries in their favour. The Agreement on agriculture : while developing countries are bared from giving essential development subsidy for ensuring food security under WTO rules, EU and US have always been allowed to give hugh subsidies on both production and consumption under various schemes. According to the Worldbank more than half of EU support goes to 1 % of producers while in the U S 79% of subsidies go to 10% of producers, mainly agri businesses. The US has movend nine tebths of their production subsidies to the socalled Green Box. In the case of the EU is about half. These subsidies are seen as fair , not trade distorting, though in reality, it is now estzblidhed tvzt ghey are more unfair ghan subsidies given by tve developing countries to met key food neds. While the Green Box includes public food stockholding programmes, it specially leaves out price support to farmers, even if they are small, poor and are catering to the domestic market.