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| PRESIDENT CLINTON ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR ENHANCED MARKET ACCESS FOR LEAST-DEVELOPED |
COUNTRIES AND REVITALIZED CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAM
DECEMBER 1, 1999
SEATTLE WTO MINISTERIAL
President Clinton's Initiative
The President recommended to EU Commission President Prodi at their October 27th meeting that the EU and the United States develop a joint proposal on developing countries to integrate them into the trading system.
The President supports a proposal with two central elements: 1) enhanced market access for the poorest countries; and 2) improved capacity building and technical assistance programs.
The United States will continue to work with the EU and our other Quad partners, Japan and Canada, to build support for this initiative this week.
Least-Developed Country Market Access
Proposal will call on all WTO members to enhance market access for products from the least-developed countries.
The United States provides duty free treatment in its preference programs unlike many countries. These programs, such as the Generalized System of Preferences, give special tariff treatment to the least-developed countries.
U.S. Generalized System of Preferences offers duty free treatment to least-developed countries on three-quarters of the products listed in the U.S. tariff schedule.
Administration will push Congress to pass an Africa/Caribbean Basin Initiative Bill.
Nothing in the proposal would impair the ability of the United States to condition eligibility of its preferences programs on progress in respecting core labor standards.
Proposal will call on WTO Members to consider the possibility of accelerated implementation of MFN concessions negotiated in the new Round on products of export interest to the least-developed countries.
Capacity Building/Technical Assistance
Proposal calls on the WTO to work with other institutions to establish a new, revitalized program aimed at helping the least-developed countries develop the capacity to participate in the trading system (e.g., improve institutional capacity to develop and implement trade policy), to utilize WTO rules and procedures in developing their trading regimes, as well as adopt and implement domestic laws and regulations necessary for them to fully capitalize on trading opportunities.
This is a result of working with our partners from Bangladesh, Lesotho, Nigeria, Senegal and Zambia in Geneva to revitalize the program and make it more responsive and demand driven.
The WTO Director-General should engage his counterparts at relevant international institutions to ensure that this new program is underway as quickly as possible. The Director-General will also engage bilateral donors in the discussion.
This initiative will build upon the Integrated Framework for Technical Assistance for the least-developed that was established as a result of the Singapore WTO Ministerial in 1996, and will be undertaken in partnership with other international institutions and the recipients of the assistance.
The new program will ensure that recipients participate in the development of their programs and the assessment of program effectiveness.
Drawing on the experience of the Integrated Framework, the proposal calls on the WTO to consider creation of a separate program with similar benefits for other developing countries, economies in transition and those seeking to accede to the WTO.
President Clinton will meet with heads of international organizations later this afternoon and urge them to make capacity building and technical assistance programs more effective.
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