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Committee on Regional Trade Agreements - Seventy-fourth Session - Free trade agreement between Chile and Nicaragua - Goods and services - Note on the meeting of 23 September 2014
作者:Committee on Regional Trade Agreements

free trade agreement between Chile and nicaragua

goods and services

Note on the Meeting of 23 september 2014

Chairman: Ambassador Francisco Pirez Gordillo (Uruguay)

1.1.  The 74th Session of the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements (hereinafter 'CRTA' or the 'Committee') was convened in Airgram WTO/AIR/4338 dated 11 August 2014.

1.2.  Under Agenda Item B.V of the session, the CRTA considered the Free Trade Agreement between Chile and Nicaragua, (hereinafter "the Agreement").

1.3.  The Chairman said that the Agreement had entered into force on 19 January 2012. It had been notified to the WTO by the Parties on 14 June 2013 under Article XXIV:7(a) of the GATT 1994 and the Understanding on the Interpretation of Article XXIV of GATT 1994 as an Agreement establishing a free trade area (document WT/REG344/N/1) and under GATS Article V:7(a) as an Agreement providing for the liberalization of trade in services within the meaning of Article V of the GATS (document S/C/N/697). The text of the Agreement was available, together with its Annexes, on the Parties' official websites. The Factual Presentation on the goods and services aspects (document WT/REG344/1 dated 30 June 2014) and written questions and replies (document WT/REG344/2 dated 16 September 2014) had been issued. He proposed to organize the consideration of the Agreement by first asking the Parties and then other Members to give any general comments, then he would turn to the specifics of the Agreement, using the Factual Presentation to guide the debate. They would then go through the questions and replies document.

1.4.  The representative of Nicaragua congratulated the Chairman on his appointment and wished him every success. He reiterated his delegation's commitment to cooperating with him to ensure success in fulfilling the Committee's work under his leadership. Nicaragua was grateful to the Committee for the opportunity to consider the FTA between Chile and the countries of Central America, in particular the Bilateral Protocol between Chile and Nicaragua signed on 19 October 1999 as an integral part of that Agreement, which had entered into force on 19 October 2012. He thanked the Secretariat for preparing the Factual Presentation in excellent coordination with capital; it clearly reflected the commitments and obligations of the Parties. He was grateful to the delegations of the European Union and Peru for the interest shown in the Agreement through their questions. The Agreement provided for the creation and implementation of a free trade area between the Parties and sought to stimulate the expansion and diversification of trade in goods and services; to promote conditions of fair competition; to eliminate trade barriers and facilitate the movement of goods and services; and to promote, protect and increase investment. The FTA under consideration was a reflection of the cordial relations between Nicaragua and Chile that rested on a long history of friendship and cooperation with the common aim of reducing poverty and enhancing the welfare of their peoples. The relationship had been strengthened by the vitality of foreign trade and by technical cooperation programmes that had contributed to the modernization and social welfare process introduced by Nicaragua's Government of Reconciliation and National Unity. In addition to the different areas relating to trade in goods, such as market access, rules of origin, customs procedures, safeguards, anti-dumping measures, SPS measures, technical barriers to trade and competition policy, the Agreement also included provisions on trade in services, investment and government procurement.

1.5.  Nicaragua believed that the Agreement had benefited both countries, inter alia by eliminating barriers to trade, facilitating cross border movement of goods and services, opening up investment opportunities, creating efficient procedures for its implementation and administration, and establishing a framework for bilateral and regional cooperation. The Agreement had been negotiated in conformity with the provisions of Article V of the GATS and Article XXIV of the GATT. With respect to goods, this was the second agreement negotiated by Nicaragua involving large scale opening up of trade, with only about 1.4% of eight-digit tariff lines excluded from trade liberalization by Nicaragua, and less than 1% by Chile. Currently, a little more than 90% of bilateral trade entered duty free. In connection with the provisions relating to trade in goods, the Parties had committed themselves, with the exceptions set forth in the Agreement, to adopt or maintain only export and import restrictions which were consistent with Article XI of the GATT 1994. Thus, Nicaragua could adopt or maintain export and import restrictions on basic food products, used products such as clothing, shoes, tyres, machinery, and vehicles, amongst others.

1.6.  As far as rules were concerned, both countries confirmed their rights and obligations set out in the WTO Agreements. Although little more than a year had gone by since the entry into force of the Bilateral Protocol, trade between Chile and Nicaragua had been on the rise, totalling US$45.9 million in 2013 - a 28.9% increase on 2012. This increase was due to Nicaragua's imports from Chile, which were more dynamic than its exports to Chile, to the extent that in 2013 Nicaragua reported its greatest ever trade deficit with Chile, prompting an urgent analysis of its exportable supply and the export promotion mechanisms in place with respect to Chile. It was important to note that the decrease in exports to Chile was essentially due to the opening up of other markets, such as the European Union in August 2013 and Venezuela, which had absorbed a significant share of the country's exportable supply. The ten main exports to Chile in 2013, in order of importance, were rum; cane sugar; raw coffee; baker's wares; articles of apparel and clothing, not knitted or crocheted; footwear and worn clothing; waste and scrap of paper for recycling; articles of apparel and clothing accessories; live plants; and finally, roasted coffee. As regards implementation, both Chile and Nicaragua were pursuing efforts to make the most of the Agreement by promoting awareness so that the production and trade sectors could fully enjoy the benefits it offered. In conclusion, Nicaragua reiterated its commitment to the multilateral trading system, and would continue to strengthen its role in defining the rules governing international trade. Nicaragua was convinced that this type of agreement should be negotiated and implemented in conformity with WTO rules and disciplines and with the aim of promoting economic growth to ensure the welfare of all.

1.7.  The representative of Chile welcomed the Minister of Production and Trade of Nicaragua who was attending the meeting.  He thanked the Secretariat for the Factual Presentation and the European Union and Peru for their interest in the FTA and their advance questions, to which the Parties had replied. He also expressed his gratitude to Nicaragua for its close and fruitful cooperation throughout the process. From a regional standpoint, Chile recognized Central America as a dynamic and competitive area with open markets and growing investment. This was borne out by the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2014, according to which foreign direct investment in Central America had increased by 64% in 2013. Chile particularly appreciated the openness of the Nicaraguan economy, as reflected in the numerous free trade agreements in force. Nicaragua was currently in the process of building up a legal framework that would enable it to attract more foreign investment. The countries exchanged information and knowledge on the benefits and opportunities of the multilateral trading system and trade agreements. In this context, Chile valued the country's macroeconomic management and the close relations it maintained with multilateral financing institutions. Chile was confident that foreign trade would help to attract domestic and foreign investment and contribute to growth, employment, social development, and hence poverty reduction.

1.8.  The FTA between Chile and Central America, signed on 19 October 1999, had created a free trade area between Chile and Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. It was a so‑called "third generation" agreement. Nicaragua was the fifth country to join this FTA, signing a Bilateral Protocol. The Agreement had entered into force in October 2012 and had been notified in June 2013. In order to ensure that the FTA was properly implemented, a meeting of the Free Trade Commission was held periodically with the participation of all of the countries of the region, followed by a meeting of the Free Trade Commission for each Bilateral Protocol with Chile. A meeting of this kind had been held in October of last year. The Bilateral Protocol between Chile and Nicaragua in the framework of the FTA with Central America provided for an asymmetric tariff elimination programme under which, upon its entry into force, 97.6% of Nicaragua's exports to Chile were free of duty. In the next seven years that figure was expected to reach 100%. At the same time, upon entry into force, 66.8% of Chilean exports to Nicaragua were duty free, and in three stages, that figure would be 98.5% by 2026. In 2009, the value of trade between the two countries stood at a mere US$15 million, a figure which had now more than doubled; but there was still plenty of potential to continue developing bilateral trade. This would require further efforts to promote trade and open up new opportunities for producers of both countries, taking full advantage of the Agreement. His delegation was fully committed to deepening the ties of commercial relationship and technical cooperation.

1.9.  The representative of the United States thanked the participants for the excellent and informative presentations that had put the Agreement in context.  Both Parties were important and valued US FTA partners and he welcomed the consideration of the Agreement.

1.10.  The representative of the European Union said that both Chile and Nicaragua were dynamic trading partners of the EU and his delegation appreciated its cooperation with both of them. He thanked the Parties for their swift and comprehensive responses to the EU's questions.

1.11.  The Chairman said that consideration of the Goods and Services Aspects of the Free Trade Agreement between Chile and Nicaragua had allowed the Committee to clarify a number of questions and the oral discussion of this RTA could be concluded in accordance with paragraph 11 of the Transparency Mechanism. If any delegation wished to ask follow up questions they were invited to forward submissions in writing to the Secretariat by 30 September 2014 and Parties were asked to submit replies in writing by no later than 14 October 2014. In accordance with paragraph 13 of the Transparency Mechanism all written submissions, as well as minutes of this meeting would be circulated promptly, in all WTO official languages, and would be made available on the WTO website.

1.12.  The Committee took note of the comments made.