December 14, 2015
Ahead of its historic meeting in Kenya this week, members of the World Trade Organization General Council decided on a pact aimed at addressing trade-related challenges faced by small vulnerable economies.

The agreement, which will be adopted by members during the WTO 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi this week, calls for integration of small vulnerable economies or least developed countries into the multilateral trading system. The draft proposal was presented last month by Committee on Trade and Development, a special committee of the organization assigned to review proposals submitted by members on a course of actions regarding trade issues.

The agreement, a compilation of several recommendations and negotiation since 2013, calls for continued work in assisting small economies’ effort to reduce trade costs, and barriers, particular in areas of agriculture, industrial goods, services, fisheries subsidies and trade facilitation, and to help address the challenges these small economies experienced when linking into global value chains for trade in goods and services.

Though small economies account for only a small percentage of the world trade, and do not form an official sub-category in the WTO, nevertheless, these economies face specific challenges[such as] due to their small size and the distance which separates them from their key trading partners.

The WTO General Council also agreed on an e-commerce treaty for members to continue not imposing customs duties on electronics transmissions until the next WTO Ministerial Conference in 2017. In the meantime, special bodies of the organization has been assigned to review the relationship between existing WTO agreements and e-commerce based on proposal submitted by members.

Experts say the decision to move forward on a pact that will advance small economies into the global trade system is a step forward in the right direction.Even though small economies, or least developed countries constitute a small percentage of the organization, the LDCs play very significant, increasingly role in the global trading chain system in ensuring production, manufacturing.

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