Barbados is leading a lobby at the powerful World Trade Organisation against harmful trade barriers affecting it and other small economies.
In February, officials representing the island at the WTO, based in Geneva, Switzerland requested and succeeded in getting the Committee on Trade and Development to circulate communication in which it called for the WTO Secretariat to “undertake a factual assessment” of the effects of measures, including subsidies and quotas, which made it difficult to export items.
And in recent days nine other countries, which have not been named, have come forward in support of the Barbados proposal.
“To complete the analyses mandated by the ministerial decision on non-tariff measures and small economies, the WTO Secretariat shall undertake a factual assessment of the non-tariff measures/non-tariff barriers faced by Small Economies. The assessment shall complement the initial background work, by inter alia, identifying and, where possible, quantifying the non-tariff measures/non-tariff barriers faced by small, vulnerable economies; and the impact on small vulnerable, economies trade and development, in particular their export trade,” the Barbados proposal stated.
“To widely disseminate and discuss the results of the assessments, it is proposed that the results of the assessments, relevant case studies as well as examples of successful collaboration between importers and small, vulnerable exports exporters in the resolution of non-trade measures, including best practices, shall be shared and highlighted in a workshop, to be organised by the WTO Secretariat and held on the margins of a meeting of the Committee on Trade and Development-Dedicated Session convened before the ninth session of the WTO Ministerial Conference,” it added.
At a recent WTO meeting, Barbados “provided more information about its proposal and said it was fully in line with the mandate from the Eighth Ministerial Conference”, winning the support of the nine countries.
After concern was raised on non-tariff measures/barriers the WTO ministers requested more information on the issue. A 2012 background note on the issue categorised the non-tariff issues as measures “that can impact trade flows”, and said they included import quotas, import prohibitions, import licensing, customs procedures, administration fees, export taxes, subsidies, and quotas. (SC)