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Rich nations could prefer services from LDCsFriday, February 13, 2015 > 11:49:08
Waiver-providing countries will try to submit notification to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to offer preferential treatment to least developed countries' (LDCs) services by this coming July, the commerce minister said Tuesday.
Back from a meeting in Geneva on trade and services, Tofail Ahmed expressed his optimism to reporters that the move -- if it gets through -- would greatly facilitate Bangladesh in exporting services from various professions and modes.
And this preference to hiring services from members of the poor-country club would also advance Bangladesh's vision to be a middle-income country by its golden-jubilee year.
A meeting of the Council for Trade and Services (CTS) will be held in March and an assessment report will be prepared by the LDC Group in order to evaluate the commercial value of the preferences on the table and the ensuing need for capacity building in the LDCs concerned, he said at a press briefing at the ministry of commerce (MoC).
The commerce minister joined a high-level meeting on operationalization of the LDC services waiver, on 5-6 February 2015 at the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland. The press conference was held to inform the press about outcome of the meeting.
"If the developed countries provide waiver facility on services in favour of LDCs, it will help Bangladesh boost its economy towards achieving the middle-income status by 2021," Mr Ahmed said.
The LDC services waiver decision stems from the outcome from a previous WTO ministerial conference held in Geneva in 2011.
However, in the two years that followed, no preferences had been requested by LDCs or granted to them, prompting WTO members to reconsider ways to move this decision forward, the commerce minister mentioned.
He said at the high-level meeting on services many countries indicated their preferences for LDCs in the service sector. The LDCs should work together to reap benefit from the member-countries.
The minister said most of the developed countries, including European Union (EU) states, Mexico, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India, China, Korea, Jamaica and Qatar, indicated their willingness to provide preferential treatment to the LDCs for ensuring effective implementation of services waiver.
But the United States of America (USA) refrained from making any commitment.
Under this move, Bangladesh's sectors like Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) and Business Operations Processing services, Auditing, Accounting, Financial services, hotel, tourism, independent professionals, computer-related services may have preferential access to the waiver-providing countries.
The minister also said for the extension of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver in pharmaceuticals, which will expire on 31 December 2015, the LDCs will work together.
He said during his Geneva visit, he had sat in a bilateral meeting with Director-General of the WTO Roberto Azevedo. They exchanged views on the outcome of the high-level meeting on services and progress in developing work programme for Doha Development Agenda.
Two separate meetings were held with secretary-general of UNCTAD Mukhisa Kituyi and trade, industry and cooperatives minister of Uganda Amelia Anne Kyambadde.