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27 and 29 April 2016

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

         The third Trade Policy Review of Malawi has provided us with a good opportunity to understand better the recent developments of its socio-economic, trade and investment policies since its last Review in 2010, as well as the challenges Malawi is now facing.

         Our discussion has benefitted from the contributions made by the Malawi delegation, headed by Mr. Cliff CHIUNDA, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Trade; the discussant, H.E. Ambassador Shameem AHSAN, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the WTO; and all the Members which took the floor.

         In their interventions, many Members commended Malawi for its economic performance, and noted the advances it had made on some development indicators.  They also noted, however, that Malawi remained one of the poorest countries in the world. The challenges posed by its landlocked situation were exacerbated by inadequate transport infrastructure, as well as insufficient and unreliable power and water supplies. Members therefore urged Malawi to focus on addressing these infrastructural deficiencies.  Some pointed out that continued support from development partners would be key to success in this regard.   

         Members also acknowledged the progress that Malawi had made in diversifying exports and ensuring food security. Nevertheless, the economy was still highly dependent on a few agricultural commodities, which made it vulnerable to external shocks such as severe weather conditions. Members therefore encouraged Malawi to step up its diversification efforts, while striving to enhance productivity. Some Members also suggested additional steps to increase investor and donor confidence, such as putting in place effective fiscal controls and anti-corruption strategies, improving transparency and accountability, and further streamlining regulatory and investment procedures.

         Commenting on Malawi’s international trade relations, many Members appreciated Malawi’s active participation in the DDA negotiations, and welcomed the recent establishment of a Malawi WTO Mission in Geneva. Some Members hoped to see Malawi adhering more closely to WTO notification requirements.  Others suggested that technical assistance might allow Malawi to participate more actively in the WTO.  Some also sought details about Malawi’s involvement in bilateral and regional trade liberalization initiatives.

         Regarding specific trade measures, Members congratulated Malawi on its efforts to establish a National Trade Facilitation Committee and its recent notification of Category A commitments under the Agreement on Trade Facilitation, and encouraged it to promptly ratify the Agreement. While Malawi’s trade facilitation endeavours were generally praised, some Members saw scope for simplification of its import procedures relating to standards and technical regulations.

         Members were also interested in the Government’s priorities regarding, inter alia, competition policy, SPS and TBT regimes. Noting that Malawi’s intellectual property regime had not been substantially updated during the period under review, Members encouraged the authorities to accept the Protocol amending the TRIPS Agreement and to ensure its effective implementation.

         By now, Malawi has already responded to almost all advance written questions.  This review will be successfully concluded in a month’s time, when Malawi replies to all outstanding questions. I am certain that Malawi will feel encouraged by the importance that Members have attached to this exercise.  I hope the delegation will also bring home the constructive comments that it has received, and further develop its economic and trade policies, with a view to enhancing its competitiveness in the global economy, and its participation in the multilateral trading system.

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Azevêdo continues intensive consultations as members head for the final stretch to Bali

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, on 18 November 2013, continued without a pause his intensive consultations over the weekend and the previous weeks on a Bali package consisting of agreements on trade facilitation, agriculture and development issues as members head for the final stretch to the WTO’s 9th Ministerial Conference on 3-6 December 2013.

DG Azevêdo is due to report to the final General Council meeting before Bali — on 21 November — on progress in his consultations.

WTO ambassadors resumed consultations on Section II of a draft agreement on trade facilitation. This section provides the basis for special and differential treatment and for technical assistance and capacity building needed for the implementation of the agreement.

In agriculture, members are focusing on proposals about reducing export subsidies and related policies known collectively as “export competition”, reducing the chances that the methods used to share out a particular type of quota among traders become trade barriers in their own right, on how to deal with developing countries’ food stockholding for food security when the purchases could distort trade, on adding a number of environmental and development services to the list of programmes considered not to distort trade and therefore allowed without limit, and on cotton produced by least-developed countries (LDCs).

On development, members have agreed proposals by LDCs on preferential rules of origin and on operationalization of the services waiver for them. Work continues on duty-free, quota free treatment for LDCs. Members are also consulting on a monitoring mechanism for special and differential treatment for developing countries under WTO agreements.

DG Azevêdo has stressed that the negotiations for a Bali package must be concluded in Geneva before the Ministerial Conference. He told the Trade Negotiations Committee on 12 November that “one of the clearest messages from my consultations with members is that Bali must not be a negotiating conference”.