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New trade deal gives developing countries more markets

[ December 21, 2015   //   ]

The World Trade Organisation signed what it claimed as an “historic” agreement on trade at its Tenth Ministerial Conference in Kenya on 19 December. Central plank of the deal was a commitment to abolish export subsidies by developed countries on agricultural goods, which many argue distort international trade

Developed members are required to remove their export subsidies immediately, except for a handful of agriculture products, with developing countries following by 2018. The deal also included new criteria for deciding whether exports from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) benefit from trade preferences and LDCs would gain duty-free and quota-free access to the markets of developed countries — and possibly some developing countries immediately.

The summit also promised a debate on the future of the Doha Round, launched almost 15 years ago. Many believe that the multilateral approach is unsustainable and has led to a proliferation of smaller, more regional trade agreements such as the transatlantic TTIP deal between the EU and US and the US-Asia Transpacific Partnership.

A few days before the main agreement, WTO members also agreed a deal to eliminate tariffs on IT products valued at over $1.3 trillion per year. All 162 WTO members would enjoy duty-free market access to the markets of the members eliminating tariffs on a list of 201 products already agreed in July 2015.

Around 65% of tariff lines will be fully eliminated by 1 July 2016 and most of the remaining ones phased out in four stages over three years, making almost trade in IT products duty free by 2019.

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