unctad.org | Commission on Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities, 11th session
Commission on Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities, 11th session
19 - 23 March 2007

Key Issues

Networking with RTAs of Developing Countries

The proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTAs) among developing countries and between them and developed countries has resulted in a complex web of trading arrangements underpinning trade flows.

In this light, at its high-level event, the Trade Commission will discuss possibilities for networking among RTAs of developing countries in order to share experiences and develop insights into common problems faced, including on the interface between multilateralism and regionalism. The discussion would involve participation by the executive heads and senior officials of selected RTAs.

Commodities and development

Commodity sector development is essential to poverty reduction. The Commission thus will examine critical policy areas, focusing on opportunities and challenges faced by developing countries that rely heavily on commodities. The current high and volatile oil prices are one such challenge, for both oil-exporting and oil-importing countries.

The Commission will examine ways to respond to these challenges, including by:

  • fostering policy dialogue;
  • providing a forum for discussing price volatility;
  • helping developing countries to fully exploit opportunities arising from renewable energy sources;
  • formulating policy options for the use of windfall gains;
  • promoting the reduction of trade barriers and trade-distorting subsidies; and
  • addressing issues of governance and transparency.

Compensatory finance arrangements as a mechanism for addressing commodity price volatility will also be examined.

Action to facilitate market entry for small commodity producers is another important area in view of the constantly increasing demands on producers to comply with official and private sector standards and the requirements of more competitive markets. Issues raised at the Expert Meeting on market access for small commodity producers (11-13 December 2006) will also be discussed.

Market access, market entry and competitiveness

The Commission will review progress in the work of UNCTAD in regard to non-tariff barriers (NTBs), particularly the initiative of the Secretary-General of UNCTAD to establish a Group of Eminent Persons on Non-Tariff Barriers and its Multi-Agency Support Team.

It will also consider progress on promoting participation of developing countries in new and dynamic sectors of world trade, including the review of the energy sector and related issues discussed at an Expert Meeting (29 November-1 December 2006).

Additionally, the Commission will be informed of UNCTAD´s contribution to the conceptualization of the Aid for Trade initiative.

Trade in services and development implications

Trade in services in regional integration agreements has been playing an increasingly important role in promoting development in member countries. A noticeable trend over the past decade has been significant increases in the trade of goods and services among countries, accompanied by accelerated and deepening economic integration at the regional and multilateral levels.

Thus, the Commission will review the main issues affecting regional integration in trade in services, investment and finance, and regional infrastructure relating to services that can promote growth and development. The lessons learnt from the experience of regional groupings with liberalizing trade in services and the main challenges, including through ongoing work by UNCTAD, to facilitate regional arrangements, will be discussed. Both the aspects of liberalization and the development dimension of the regional trade agreements covering services would be examined.

In addition sector-specific issues raised at an Expert Meeting on universal access to services (14-16 November 2006) and on logistic services (13 July 2006) will be examined.

Trade, environment and development

The Commission will address selected trade and environment issues that have received considerable attention in recent international policy discourse, and related UNCTAD activities.

These include:

  1. the liberalization of international trade in environmental goods and services under the Doha round;

  2. issues on environmental requirements and market access for developing countries carried out under UNCTAD´s Consultative Task Force on Environmental Requirements and Market Access for Developing Countries; and

  3. trade and production opportunities in organic agriculture.

The Commission will also examine:

  1. the challenges and opportunities of the biofuels option for developing countries, particularly in the context of UNCTAD´s Biofuels Initiative;

  2. the BioTrade verification/certification scheme for product differentiation and recognition of the sustainability efforts undertaken by small and medium-sized enterprises; and

  3. trade, investment and technology transfer opportunities under various Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

Agenda

Documents

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Notification

The eleventh session of the Commission on Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities will be held from 19 to 23 March 2007. The session will open at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, at 10 a.m. on Monday, 19 March 2007.

The substantive items for the provisional agenda (to be circulated as document TD/B/COM.1/81) were approved at the tenth session of the Commission on Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities (6-10 February 2006).

The main agenda items are:

  • Item 3. Commodities and development

  • Item 4. Market access, market entry and competitiveness

  • Item 5. Trade in services and development implications

  • Item 6. Trade, environment and development

Membership of the Commission is open to all States members of UNCTAD. States members of UNCTAD wishing to attend the session are requested to provide the Secretary-General of UNCTAD with the credentials of their representatives and the names of their alternate representatives and advisers by 26 February 2007. States that are not members of the Commission are entitled to be represented by observers. Other participants (i.e. the specialized agencies and intergovernmental bodies, as well as non-governmental organizations in the General and Special Categories wishing to participate as observers) are requested to indicate the names of their representatives by the same date.

Upon arrival, participants are requested, before entering the Palais des Nations, to collect their badges at the UN Security Service, Pregny Gate entrance, 14 Avenue de la Paix. The Security Service is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (non-stop). Because of the security measures in force, participants are strongly advised to arrive before 9 a.m. in order to complete entry procedures in good time and proceed to the Meeting in the E-Building (Bâtiment E) of the Palais. Participants are requested to carry a passport or similar national identity card with them. Taxis are not allowed to enter the grounds of the Palais des Nations, and visitors will therefore be dropped off at the requested entrance gates. Furthermore, luggage may not be brought into the buildings unless the Security Service gives special clearance.

All communications concerning representation should be sent to the UNCTAD secretariat, Intergovernmental Affairs and Outreach Service, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10 (fax: +41(0)22 917 0214; e-mail: correspondence@unctad.org).

All other enquiries should be addressed to the substantive officers concerned as follows:

(signed)

Supachai Panitchpakdi
Secretary-General of UNCTAD
19 January 2007


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