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AuthorInama, Stefano
TitleImproving Market Access for Least Developed Countries
Imprint Geneva, United Nations. 2001
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Descript 158 p. : tables


Among the various initiatives undertaken at the multilateral and international level to favour LDCs' exports, the European Union (EU) proposal, originally made in the course of the preparations for Seattle by providing LDCs duty/quota-free treatment for "essentially all" products, is probably one of the most relevant. At present, the recently approved "Everything But Arms" (EBA) initiative is the most tangible implementation of such course of action. The original proposal was discussed in several forums including at the World Trade Organization (WTO), where agreement was reached that duty/quota-free treatment would be "consistent with domestic requirements and international agreements". The "essentially all" qualification of the offer may imply that some items would be excluded from the coverage of the initiative. Moreover the use of the word "consistent" with the existing requirements may imply that current rules of origin and administrative procedures will not be modified. The value of any new initiative in favour of improving market access for LDCs should be measured against the factors determining the under utilization of current trade preferences or "missed preferences", namely those granted but not utilized because of the stringent conditions attached to them and those that could be granted by the inclusion of non-covered products. The present paper contends that four basic conditions should be fulfilled by these various initiatives to improve market access for LDCs: (i) ensure security of the preferential treatment granted (e.g. to establish a commitment that imparts stability of market access to the initiative); (ii) provide full product coverage at duty-free rate, limited products exceptions may be granted duty-free tariff quotas with a scheduled phase down; (iii) harmonize and devise origin requirements matched with the industrial capacity of LDCs; and (iv) strengthen technical cooperation to maximize utilization of trade preferences. Various options and instruments to achieve these objectives are envisaged, such as an instrument to the GATT 1994, as outlined in the paper. Finally, this paper is limited to market access constraints, in particular tariffs and issues related to rules of origin. Supply-side constraints, determining LDCs' export capacity are not addressed, but should be taken into consideration in the context of any initiative directed at improving LDCs' participation in global trade flows

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