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03 Dec 2013   03:05:10 PM   Tuesday BdST A- A A+ Print this E-mail this

WTO Bali meet begins: LDCs push for trade privileges

 WTO Bali meet begins: LDCs push for  trade privileges

All 49 least-developed countries (LDCs) yesterday agreed to place Bangladesh’s four demands that would enhance its trade privileges at the ninth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The four demands include relaxation of rules of origin, duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) access and waiver for export of services, according to Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed, who is leading the Bangladeshi delegation.
“We have great news from the ministerial conference. Earlier, the LDC members were divided in the four areas, but now there is a consensus,” he said yesterday after a meeting with the other LDCs ahead of the conference.
If the member countries agree to the four demands at the ministerial conference, it will greatly help Bangladesh, while citing the zero-duty entry of garment products, the country’s main export item, to the US, the country’s single largest export destination, as an example of the benefits.
At present, the country pays 15.3 percent duty on garment export to the US, although duty benefit was promised in the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial Conference in 2005.
As a result, Bangladeshi garment exporters paid $746 million as duty to the US customs in 2012 for exporting a little above $5 billion worth of garment products.
The ninth biennial ministerial conference, the highest meeting of WTO, starts today in the Indonesian resort city Bali, with the aim to strike a deal for activating the multilateral trading system worldwide that would reduce trading costs for the member countries.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will inaugurate the meeting at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre (BNDCC), expected to be attended by delegates of 169 countries. The participants include ministers, media activists, NGO people and representatives from different international organisations.
The policy makers of the participating countries will mainly discuss the issues pertaining to LDCs, monitoring mechanism for special and differential treatment, post Bali agenda, regular activities of WTO, subsidies in agriculture and trade facilitation among the member countries, at the four-day event.
“We will discuss efforts to enhance food security, eradicate poverty, and develop underdeveloped regions in developing countries,” said Wirjawan, who will also chair the conference.

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