Los Miembros celebran la mayor cooperación entre la OMA y la OMC y toman nota del gran número de preocupaciones comerciales


Los Miembros elogiaron los esfuerzos realizados por la Organización Mundial de Aduanas (OMA) y la OMC para encontrar formas de colaboración más ágiles entre ambas organizaciones a fin de aumentar la resiliencia y mejorar la preparación de cara a futuras crisis. En una reunión del Comité de Acceso a los Mercados celebrada los días 18 y 19 de octubre, el Presidente, Sr. Kenya Uehara (Japón), también rindió informe a los Miembros sobre las sesiones de intercambio de experiencias acerca de la comercialización de productos relacionados con la COVID-19, y estos examinaron la cuestión del aumento del número de preocupaciones comerciales.

The Chair informed members of his participation in September in the 70th session of the Harmonized System Committee (HSC) of the WCO. His participation followed a communication sent to the WCO, on behalf of the Committee on Market Access, highlighting the issues raised by WTO members in relation to the classification of COVID-19 essential goods in the Harmonized System (HS) and providing some suggestions for the HSC to consider (G/MA/406).

The communication underlined that while the HS is considered to be a powerful tool to facilitate international trade and to collect trade statistics, it had not always been easy to use when WTO members had to consider products critical to COVID-19 and identify and classify them in the corresponding commodity codes. For many members, this still presents a challenge for the formulation of trade policy measures as part of the pandemic response.

The Chair spoke of the importance of the WTO and the WCO, through their respective memberships, finding ways to work together to build resilience and improve preparedness for future crises. He stressed the general willingness in the HSC to establish cooperation with the Committee on the improved classification of certain goods of special importance in times of emergency.

Given that the Committee on Market Access does not have an explicit mandate or the relevant expertise to submit concrete classification proposals, it was a positive outcome that the HSC mandated the WCO Secretariat to further study the suggestions by WTO members. The WCO Secretariat was also asked to present specific proposals in relation to facemasks, vaccines and ambulances, which are key products not only for COVID-19 but for any global pandemic, added the Chair.

Mr Uehara also noted the flexibility shown by the HSC in accepting the Committee’s suggestion to explore the possibility of creating a mechanism with which the WCO Secretariat can hold ad hoc consultations with the HSC to issue classification guidelines in collaboration with other relevant international organizations, such as the WTO, in emergency situations.

«If there is something that we should have all learned from this pandemic, it is that we cannot rely on ‘business as usual’ in times of emergency. The Committee on Market Access is of the view that it is of utmost importance to strengthen the dialogue between our two organizations,» Mr Uehara said.

WCO Deputy Director of Tariff and Trade Affairs, Ms Gael Grooby, and the Chairperson of the HSC, Mr Álvaro Fernández Acebes, were invited to speak before the Committee. They highlighted that divergences or misclassifications in the HS are very often due to the absence of information about the products under consideration rather than a lack of clarity in the HS.

The WCO recalled that the next HS review cycle was close to finishing, so if proposals did not arrive in the next few months, the prospects of addressing the lack of specificity for critical medical products in the next version of the nomenclature (HS2027) would be limited.

The WTO Secretariat provided a brief overview (summarized in document G/MA/W/158/Rev.5) on the status of HS changes to schedules of concessions – the legal instruments that describe the treatment a member must provide to the trade in goods of other WTO members.

The Committee also agreed to extend the collective waivers, which allow members to apply the HS changes in their national nomenclature, while their WTO schedules for goods have still to be updated to the most recent HS version.

Ahead of the Committee meeting, the WCO and the WTO had held a joint workshop on 17 October to address the periodical HS updates. Participants in the workshop discussed the impact these updates to the HS could have on legal instruments recording tariffs and other commitments by WTO members with respect to trade in goods, and in particular on schedules of concessions.