A high level meeting for the operaltionalization of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) services waiver is being held in Geneva on 5-6 February 2015 chaired by the chairperson of the Council for Trade in Services. Bangladesh delegation led by Hon’ble Commerce Minister Mr. Tofail Ahmed M.P is attending the meeting.
The main purpose of the meeting is to provide the opportunities to the WTO members to indicate their offer for granting preference to LDCs to operationalize the LDC services waiver in response to the “Collective Request”, which prioritised the LDCs core demand on getting commercially meaningful preferential market access of services and services suppliers in the world market.
Hon’ble Minister in his statement highlighted the importance of the service sector for becoming a middle income country by 2021, the goal set by the Government under able leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Recognizing the importance of trade in economic development of Bangladesh, he urged all WTO members to come out with generous offer and notify the preferential market access for LDCs under the Services waiver, which is long standing.
In an open discussion, most of the delegates recognised the contribution and active engagement of Bangladesh Commerce Minister as a leader of LDCs in the previous WTO Ministerial Conferences and WTO process and appreciated his presence in the meeting. Moreover, Deputy Director General of the WTO in his remark also highlighted the potential of Bangladesh in making a steady growth in Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) and Business Operations Processing services.
Permanent Representatives from USA, EU, Mexico, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, India, China, Korea, Jamaica, Brazil Australia, New Zealand, and Qatar indicated their willingness to provide preferential treatment to LDCs for ensuring meaningful and effective implementation of services waiver. Some members such as Mexico, China, India, Korea, Japan, EU, Brazil, and Australia informed their positive intention to offer in different sectors and modes of supply of services under the waiver decision and committed to notify the preferential scheme as soon as the domestic procedure is finished in the respective constituencies.
In a remarkable statement, Canada delegation informed that they would notify their offer in details within two weeks of the meeting and urged to other members to come forward with such spirit of commitment. It was decided that assessment of the outcome of high level meeting will be carried out in next meeting of the Council for Trade in Services to be held in March 2015. The meeting also decided that preference giving countries will endeavour to submit the notification of their preferential schemes for LDCs by July 2015.
From the positive interventions made by the members, it is expected that Bangladesh is likely to be benefitted from the preferential access to be provided in sectors like Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) services and Business Operations Processing services, Auditing, Accounting, Financial services, hotel, tourism, independent professionals, computer related services.
Apart from these, Hon’ble Minister had a meeting with the chairperson of the Sub-Committee on LDC and the Chairperson of the Council for TRIPS in the WTO. Hon’ble Minister will also meet with the Director General of the WTO and the Secretary General of the UNCTAD tomorrow to discuss on the trade issues of important to Bangladesh.