Developing-country ministers meeting in São Paulo for UNCTAD XI last night launched the third round of trade negotiations under the Global System of Trade Preferences Among Developing Countries (GSTP). In the "São Paulo Declaration", They envisage a "package of substantial trade liberalization commitments" to promote economic complementarities among them.
The trade of the 43 GSTP members was estimated at US$ 2 trillion in 2000, or about 55% of all developing-country trade. The "Committee of Participants" to the Agreement, chaired by Argentinean Minister of the Economy Roberto Lavagna, administers the System in Geneva with the technical support of the UNCTAD secretariat.
Slated to begin in November 2004, the multilateral trade negotiations envisage preferential trade arrangements among 43 developing countries. China and the Group of 77 will be invited to accede to the Agreement and to participate in the new round of negotiations, which is expected to conclude in two years.
At last night’s meeting, ministers discussed ways to reinvigorate and give new direction to the GSTP as an instrument of South-South regional and interregional trade liberalization and economic cooperation. The promotion of trade among developing countries is expected to help strengthen world trade as a whole.
Established in 1989, the GSTP serves as a framework for the exchange of trade preferences among developing countries in order to promote trade within this group of countries. The decision to launch a new round of trade negotiations was inspired by the recommendations of the Twelfth Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Group of Fifteen (Caracas, February 2004) and the High-level Conference on South-South Cooperation (Marrakech, December 2003).
The GSTP is reserved for the exclusive participation of members of the Group of 77 and China. It must be based and applied on the principle of mutuality of advantages in such a way as to benefit equitably all participants, taking into account their respective levels of economic development and trade needs. The Agreement recognizes the special needs of the least developed countries (LDCs) and envisages concrete preferential measures in their favour.
To provide a stable basis for GSTP preferential trade, tariff preferences are bound and form part of the Agreement. The GSTP must be negotiated step-by-step and improved and extended in successive stages, with periodic reviews. And it must supplement and reinforce present and future subregional, regional and interregional economic groupings of developing countries and take into account their concerns and commitments.
To date, 43 countries have ratified/acceded to the Agreement: Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe.
UNCTAD services the Committee of Participants and provided technical and administrative assistance in setting up the GSTP.
The text of the Declaration follows.
THE GLOBAL SYSTEM OF TRADE PREFERENCES
AMONG DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
SAO PAULO DECLARATION ON THE LAUNCHING OF THE THIRD ROUND OF NEGOTIATIONS WITHIN THE GLOBAL SYSTEM OF TRADE PREFERENCES AMONG DEVELOPING COUNTRIES (GSTP)
We, the Ministers of Participants to the Agreement on the Global System of Trade Preferences Among Developing Countries (GSTP),
Having assembled in a special session of the GSTP Committee of Participants in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 16 June 2004 to review the implementation of the Agreement since its entry into force in 1989;
Having acknowledged the report of the President of the Committee of Participants on the prospects and challenges confronting the Agreement;
Cognizant of the need for concerted action to harness the enormous potentials of the Agreement in promoting and expanding trade among developing countries;
Having noted the Decision of the Committee of Participants at its Seventeenth session in Geneva, Switzerland to sponsor the Third Round of GSTP Negotiations;
1. We reiterate our commitment to promote and sustain mutual trade, and to further economic cooperation among the Participants through the exchange of concessions within the framework of the Agreement.
2. To this end, we have launched on the date of this Declaration the Third Round of GSTP Negotiations aimed at invigorating and furthering the objectives of the Agreement. To harness the potentials of the Agreement, we envisage a package of substantial trade liberalization commitments on the basis of mutuality of advantages in such a way as to benefit equitably all GSTP Participants.
3. We are convinced that an ambitious package of trade liberalization commitments would promote economic complementarities among the Participants especially at the interregional level.
4. In the Third Round of negotiations, we shall work towards developing concrete preferential measures to be accorded in favour of the least-developed country Participants in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement.
5. We underscore the need for broadening participation in the GSTP, mindful that developing countries have become a dynamic force in the growth of the world economy and trade. We are pleased to extend an invitation to all the members of the Group of 77 and China to accede to the Agreement. In this regard, we are grateful to the Group of 77 and China and the Group of 15 for their continuous encouragement and the political support extended to the GSTP.
6. We commit ourselves to be more involved in the affairs of the GSTP. We encourage the GSTP Negotiating Committee to take all necessary steps to facilitate and conclude expeditiously the Third Round of Negotiations.
7. We thank the Secretary-General of UNCTAD for the technical support extended to the Committee of Participants and look forward to continued support of the secretariat.