Council for Trade in Goods - Committee on Market Access - Report on the current functioning of the Committee on Market Access - Report of the Chairperson

REPORT ON THE CURRENT FUNCTIONING OF THE
COMMITTEE ON MARKET ACCESS

REPORT OF THE CHAIRPERSON

The following report is being submitted by the Chairperson of the Committee on Market Access, Mr Kenya Uehara, at the request of the Chairperson of the Council for Trade in Goods[1], and was prepared with the assistance of the Secretariat.

 

1  Past efforts to improve the work of the Committee

1.1.  The Committee on Market Access (CMA, or the Committee) has regularly engaged in discussions on improving different aspects of its work and to adapt to new circumstances. As a result of these initiatives, improvements have been introduced in the following areas:

·        Notification of quantitative restrictions (QRs): In 2009, the Chairperson of the General Council requested all relevant WTO bodies to discuss how to improve the timeliness and completeness of notifications and other information flows in their respective areas. In this context, the Committee had examined how to improve the level of compliance with the notification requirements under the 1995 Decision on Notification Procedures for Quantitative Restrictions (QR Decision). These discussions led to a revised QR Decision, which was adopted by the Council for Trade in Goods in June 2012 (G/L/59/Rev.1) and is the current procedure for the notification of QRs to the Committee.

 

·        Changes to WTO Schedules of concessions: The Committee oversees the application of procedures to change the WTO Schedules of concessions (Goods Schedules)[2], which include a variety of changes, such as: the rectifications and modifications of Schedules under the GATT Decision of 26 March 1980 (document L/4962, hereinafter the "1980 Procedures"); the renegotiations of concessions under Article XXVIII of the GATT 1994; and the transposition procedures to account for amendments to the Harmonized System (HS). In 2019, following a request by some Members to improve access to the different legal instruments comprising the Schedules, the Secretariat started working on an online system which could facilitate access to all relevant information relating to Goods Schedules. This work concluded in September 2020 with the launch of the "Goods Schedules e-Library".

·        Consolidated Tariff Schedules (CTS) Database: The Committee oversees the CTS database which consolidates all the latest certified tariff concessions and other commitments contained in WTO Members' Schedules of concessions and has regularly considered changes to the format in which the CTS database is structured.[3] Since June 2021, in response to a request by Members, the complete CTS database has been made available in MS Excel, in addition to MS Access.

·        Integrated Database (IDB): The Committee oversees the content, operation, and access to the IDB, which is a database that compiles applied tariff and import data notified by Members. The IDB was regulated by a decision originally adopted in December 1995, which was amended in 1997.[4] In 2009, in the context of the discussions on how to improve the timeliness and completeness of notifications, the Committee adopted two decisions relating to the dissemination policy and the use by the Secretariat of official national, regional or international sources for the collection of data with a view to enhancing Members' compliance with the IDB notifications.[5] In 2018, the Committee held consultations on how to update and improve the IDB Decision, also in light of technological developments. These discussions concluded in May 2019 with the adoption of a fully revised Decision on "Modalities and Operation of the Integrated Database" (G/MA/367), which has led to an increased compliance with the notification requirements.

·        Feedback sessions on the databases: pursuant to paragraph 15 of the 2019 IDB Decision, the Committee regularly holds feedback sessions with Members with a view to continuously improving the functionality of the WTO data dissemination and online tools. In July 2019, the CMA organized the first dedicated session entitled "Feedback on the WTO's publications and online tools to disseminate tariff and import data".[6] A second feedback session took place on 16 June 2021.[7] In response to the feedback provided by Members, and with a view to better responding to their needs, the Secretariat has introduced a series of modifications to the existing systems and databases (e.g. dissemination of CTS files in Excel in addition to MS Access format), and has been working on major improvements to other systems, such as a newly redesigned version of the _Tariff Analysis Online database (TAO) that would integrate in one place all information and data on tariffs and trade using the most recent technologies.

·        Experience‑sharing sessions on COVID-19: As a result of discussions concerning the notifications and other information submitted by Members on measures adopted in the context of the pandemic, in 2022, the Committee began a series of experience‑sharing sessions to better understand Members' policy responses to this pandemic (see Section 2.5.1 below).[8]



[1] Document JOB/CTG/18.

[2] Document WT/L/47.

[3] See for example: documents G/MA/63; G/MA/110; G/MA/156; G/MA/244; JOB/MA/13; and JOB/MA/13/Rev.1.

[4] See document WT/L/225.

[5] Decisions of the Committee on Market Access of 13 July 2009 (G/MA/238) and Framework to Enhance IDB Notifications Compliance of 13 July 2009 (G/MA/239). See also document JOB/MA/106.

[6] For a summary of this feedback session, see document G/MA/W/144. See also document G/MA/M/71 paragraphs 5.13-5.20.

[7] For a summary of this feedback session, see document G/MA/W/144/Add.1.

[8] For more information on the work done by the Committee on Market Access in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, see the report to the CTG circulated in document G/MA/W/181.