WTO Workshop on Import Licensing 2017

Venue: 
WTO, Geneva, Switzerland
Event date: 
05/02/2017 to 05/05/2017

The first WTO workshop on Import Licensing Notifications, co-organized by the Market Access Division and the ITTC was held on 2-5 May in Geneva. Twenty-nine participants from 29 WTO developing country members (including 8 LDCs) attended the 4-day workshop. Most selected participants were senior trade officials directly responsible for import licensing/ notification issues in their respective governments.

Based on the presentations, the following challenges were most frequently cited by the participants, namely (1) Capacity constraints of officials/staff (i.e. lack of staff involved in notifications, lack of institutional memory due to frequent change of staff, lack of adequate training on how to prepare notifications, lack of knowledge on what needed to be notified etc.); (2) Difficulty in coordination with different ministries at home to obtain necessary information. Most speakers highlighted the lack of commitment and unwillingness of different government agencies in providing relevant information to ministries responsible for WTO notifications; (3) Unclear and overlapping notification requirements of the Agreement. Many participants raised concerns regarding overlapping notification requirements under different provisions and expressed the preference of having clear, standard notification templates.

 

With regard to future technical assistance needs, most of the participants expressed the hope that this workshop could be held in Geneva on a yearly basis in the future to train officials directly involved in notification preparation. In addition, many stressed the importance of organizing specialized national workshops on import licensing so as to train officials of other ministries to improve their awareness of WTO notification obligations. Some other ideas were also floated such as establishing a focal point on import licensing in each country, as in the cases in TBT and SPS.

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