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.
the liberalization of international trade in environmental goods and services under the Doha round;
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
trade and production opportunities in organic agriculture.
The Commission will also examine:
the challenges and opportunities of the biofuels option for developing countries, particularly in the context of UNCTAD´s Biofuels Initiative;
the BioTrade verification/certification scheme for product differentiation and recognition of the sustainability efforts undertaken by small and medium-sized enterprises; and
trade, investment and technology transfer opportunities under various Multilateral Environmental Agreements.