OMC – Los Miembros acuerdan un calendario para las sesiones temáticas sobre el acceso a los mercados y examinan preocupaciones comerciales

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En una reunión del Comité de Acceso a los Mercados celebrada los días 25 y 26 de marzo, los Miembros acordaron un calendario para las sesiones temáticas en 2024, centrándose en la resiliencia de las cadenas de suministro y en la manera de promover un Sistema Armonizado (SA), el sistema utilizado para clasificar las mercancías objeto de comercio, más verde en colaboración con la Organización Mundial de Aduanas (OMA). Los Miembros también abordaron un gran número de preocupaciones comerciales y eligieron Presidente interino del Comité al Sr. Kenya Uehara, del Japón.

The outgoing Chair, Renata Cristaldo of Paraguay, requested the Committee’s agreement on a series of thematic sessions moderated by WTO members and proposed a preliminary plan of sessions for 2024. The Committee will organize sessions on supply chain resilience, moderated by the United Kingdom, and a first exploratory session on visualizing a greener Harmonized System moderated by Ecuador in collaboration with the WCO.

Members adopted ad referendum (i.e. subject to a final decision) a procedure aimed at facilitating multiple transpositions of WTO schedules of concessions into the latest HS version. The initiative, proposed by Japan, seeks to streamline the process of updating members’ schedules expressed in older versions of the HS nomenclature to align with the most recent version.

The proposal, initially raised in June 2022, has undergone extensive discussions in informal meetings with presentations and technical notes circulated by the WTO Secretariat to aid understanding. After several rounds of discussions and revisions, a revised version of the draft decision was circulated on 18 March.

If no objections are raised by 18 June 2024, the decision will be deemed approved by the CMA and forwarded to the General Council, through the Council for Trade in Goods (CTG), for adoption.

Ms Gael Grooby, WCO Acting Director of Tariff and Trade Affairs, updated members on the  latest session of the Harmonized System Committee (HSC) held in March, where significant progress was made, particularly in amendments to the HS 2028 edition.

She stressed that the HSC provisionally adopted a proposal initiated by the Committee on Market Access regarding certain face masks and respirators, as identified in the CMA communication to the HSC (G/MA/409). These changes are slated for presentation and adoption in June 2025, with implementation set for January 2028.

Deliberations on vaccines proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) were also addressed,  indicating collaborative efforts towards global health initiatives by the three organizations. Ms Grooby underlined the ongoing efforts to bolster the WCO-WTO collaboration to face in the future other emergency situations, building from the experience with the COVID-19 pandemic.

She noted the ongoing discussions to improve the classification of other essential medical goods in the next version of the nomenclature and the advanced dialogue at the HSC on plastics pollution and sustainable plastics trade, demonstrating positive strides in addressing environmental concerns.

Ms Grooby drew attention to the launch of a dedicated WCO website focusing on green customs, which offers valuable resources and documents pertaining to green customs initiatives.

Quantitative restrictions

The Secretariat presented a report entitled «Quantitative restrictions: Factual information on notification received», which summarizes the status of QR notifications as of 6 March 2024.

The document indicates that until that date 62 members had submitted notifications across various biennial periods (2012-2014, 2014-2016, 2016-2018, 2018-2020, 2020-2022 and/or 2022-
2024), three more members compared to the previous report. Among these, 18 members had submitted notifications for all periods, while 12 had reported for only one period.

Currently, 33 members have provided information for the ongoing biennial period (2022-2024). Additionally, 30 members have notified changes to their measures, with many adjustments attributed to responses to the COVID-19 pandemic or measures for national security.

The Chair noted that these notifications play a crucial role in promoting transparency and underlined the need to improve the level of compliance. There are still 78 members that have never notified their quantitative restrictions. In addition, there are members who have notified measures introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and have indicated that they would submit a full notification with all quantitative restrictions in place at a later date, but have not done so.

Ms Cristaldo reminded members that in accordance with the 2012 Decision on Notification Procedure for Quantitative Restrictions, the next deadline for submitting complete notifications of all restrictions in force for the period 2024-2026 is 30 September. The Secretariat is working on an online version of the notification system in order to facilitate the preparation and submission of notifications.

The QR database can be accessed here.

Members were also informed of the ongoing work to update the Tariff Analysis Online facility, the primary tariff and import data dissemination portal. Over the past months, substantial progress has been made in the online user interface and data reparation, including the efficient calculation and storage of data, allowing for fast response times to enhance the user experience. A prototype is anticipated to be showcased to members in coming months.

Four members (Canada, Mauritius, Norway and Uruguay) have reached agreements with the Secretariat for the automatic electronic transmission of data. Furthermore, Côte d’Ivoire and Madagascar use a dedicated module to transmit data at regular intervals. The Secretariat remains actively involved in discussing with interested delegations regarding similar agreements.

Regarding the status of submissions to the WTO’s Integrated Database (IDB), the Secretariat presented an update for the reporting period 2023. The update shows that out of the 136 members expected to submit notifications for their applied tariffs, 84 members (62 per cent of the membership) had done so by 20 March 2024.

The IDB is the only database based on official data supplied by members on tariffs and import data. It contains data supplied annually on the tariffs members apply on a non-discriminatory basis in line with  the most-favoured nation (MFN) principle, as well as their annual imports by tariff line and country of origin. Data on preferential duties under free trade agreements (FTAs) and/or preferential schemes for developing countries are available for some members.

Specific trade concerns

Members discussed 36 specific trade concerns (STCs), four of which were raised for the first time. New STCs dealt with policies of industrial importance in the offshore wind energy sector, marketing authorization for pharmaceutical products, automotive sector development policy, and quantitative restrictions on imports of pig meat.

Other concerns addressed reflected diverse trade issues ranging from market access barriers to regulatory policies affecting various sectors across different members. The discussions reflected the commitment of members to ensuring compliance and fostering smoother trade relations.

The list of STCs discussed during the meeting is available here.

Chair and next meetings

Members agreed that Mr Kenya Uehara of Japan is Chair of the Committee on an interim basis until the Chair of the Council for Trade in Goods (CTG) finalizes the consultations on the list of names to chair the CTG subsidiary bodies.

The next formal meeting of the Committee is scheduled for 19-20 November 2024. Informal meetings are scheduled for 11 June and 9 December 2024.

Fuente: OMC