Trade benefit for graduating LDCs: Extension may be for specific countries

| Updated: June 15, 2022 17:17:16

Trade benefit for graduating LDCs: Extension may be for specific countries

The 'trade-benefit' demand of graduating least-developed countries (LDCs) to allow for a few more years after graduation might be country-specific based on needs assessment, officials said.

As per recommendations of the developing nations in the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the LDCs might not enjoy trade benefit under a common platform after graduation.

Until now, on the third day of MC12 in Geneva, two major proposals of graduating LDCs have not been brought in the green room of the conference or come under the MC12 agenda.

The US and some other developing countries are not in favour of offering the continuation of the trade benefit on a wholesale basis, the officials who attended the formal meeting told the FE.

However, the MC12 the member countries might agree to extend support to graduating LDCs, not year-specific, but final decision in this regard would come on the last day of the meeting (today), they said.

Graduating LDCs' proposal of allowing trade benefit for a few more years after graduation under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) has not been brought in the green room to discuss formally.

The officials in the MC12 meeting hinted poor possibility to proceed on this in this year's event.

However, the concept of "graduating LDC" has been included in the WTO list in the MC12 to expedite negotiations on extension of trade-benefit period for graduating LDCs, said Md Hafizur Rahman, director general of WTO cell under commerce ministry.

After graduation, Bangladesh would lose 26 types of benefits, including tariff preferences, subsidies and privileges on disputes settlements, among others.

Some developed countries' reservations made the process lengthier as they preferred country-specific extension of trade benefit for graduating countries instead of a wholesale basis.

According to officials, the LDCs would have to wait for two more years to press the demand in such a forum if the MC12 ends inclusive.

Hope of LDCs dashed to achieve significant outcome from this four-day global event, they said.

The MC12, which kicked off in Swiss capital on Sunday, has discussed fisheries subsidy issues but it would also not come under any concrete decision.

The conference ends today (Wednesday).

Debobrata Chakrabarty, commercial counsellor of Permanent mission of Bangladesh to Geneva, said Bangladesh negotiated outcome documents in the MC12 on behalf of 35 LDCs.

"We have three files right now, including an extended time for graduating LDCs, TRPIS waiver and WTO response to the pandemic," he added.

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