16 de Diciembre de 2018
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Colección: Trends for a common future
Autor: Sidney Weintraub
Título: Technical Cooperation Needs for Hemispheric trade Negotiations
VI. Recommendations and Conclusions

The need for TC to assist hemispheric countries, particularly those with small economies, to participate effectively in the FTAA negotiations is indisputable. Much training to this end is being offered by a variety of hemispheric and international institutions, mostly through short seminars. This paper offers a framework for organizing the cooperation to achieve optimal results.

The framework breaks the TC needs into three components:

1. Assistance which puts the trade negotiations into the total development framework of the countries. Making the most of the trade opportunities which the FTAA offers requires that each country take related measures, which include institutional strengthening, improvement of infrastructure, alteration of the tax structure to replace the revenue lost as intra-hemispheric tariffs disappear, and putting modern data management systems in place. None of these measures is purely a trade issue, but all are necessary if trade performance is to be improved.

2. TC that enables each country to put the elements of the trade negotiating process into the broader context of the total negotiation. Assistance should be offered to deal with such country requirements as assessing the relative priorities of the many elements of the total negotiation, setting up a procedure to facilitate consultation with the private sector actors who will do the actual trading, evaluating the probable consequences of the changing demands on and offers by the country, and improving customs procedures. Each country must set up a mechanism to coordinate negotiating positions with all relevant domestic agencies and TC can help immensely to accomplish this.

3. TC, finally, is needed to provide background and guidance to determine national interests in each negotiating group. The three institutions of the Tripartite Committee supporting the negotiations are providing much material in this area, as are seminars and training programs offered by hemispheric and international institutions. This TC should be made available to the actual negotiators and to the experts supporting the negotiators. The participants need information on the global state of play in the various sectors. Guidance can be provided to help each country compile a list of its existing rights and obligations from past negotiations, the structure of laws and regulations that may impede negotiating flexibility, and the extent to which these laws and regulations may have to change to conclude an agreement.

TC is available for issues in each of the nine negotiating groups, although most of this short term in nature—from days to weeks—and this may not always meet national needs. The full array of TC offerings must be made known to hemispheric countries, and this is being done. What follows summarizes key issues in each negotiating group.

1. Market access. Perhaps the most important help that can be provided to the countries are inventories, updated regularly, on the tariff and nontariff impediments to accessing all hemispheric markets. In addition, countries must be able analyze the effects of different offers by negotiating partners and of its own requests; and this, in turn, assumes that the countries have the necessary computer equipment and programs to carry out this analysis. Providing TC to develop this analytical capacity therefore has a high priority.

2. Agriculture. TC needs in this sector are most essential in two related areas: understanding the extent of impediments to exports and the nature of the trade-distorting measures for the products relevant to each country; and understanding the sanitary and phytosanitary standards of each hemispheric country.

3. Services. Because this negotiating group covers trade in many specific activities, many of which are of immense importance to national development (telecommunications, financial services, tourism, engineering, accounting, and others), the TC needs include the state-of-play in services negotiations in other forums, combined with clarification of the substantive complexities that exist in many service areas.

4. Government procurement. Negotiators must be provided with up-to-date inventories of government procurement practices of each hemispheric country and some indication of how much procurement is actually open to foreign bidders. Guidance on evaluating bids would be most valuable.

5. Investment. Country negotiators have developed experience in this field from investment provisions in subregional integration agreements and the extensive network of bilateral investment treaties. However, when it comes to the global picture, their experience is limited to the TRIMs negotiations in the WTO. The most valuable TC may be to provide the FTAA negotiators more background on the issues involved in this area, what they should anticipate will be demanded of them, and full knowledge of their own obligations, laws, and regulations to enable them to know how much leeway they have in the negotiations.

6. Intellectual property. The most important global obligation is the TRIPs agreement in the WTO and all participants must be aware of the obligations their countries committed themselves to in that. Negotiators and the experts who support them may need technical and legal guidance on the substance of intellectual property issues. Article 67 of TRIPs requires that developed countries provide financial and technical assistance to developing countries at the request of the latter, and participants may wish to avail themselves of that.

7. Subsidies, antidumping, and countervailing duties. The most salient need of the negotiators in this group is for regularly updated inventories of country practices.

8. Competition policy. This is a new area for international trade negotiation and there undoubtedly will be much groping about how to proceed. The most urgent need is knowledge of laws and practices of hemispheric countries and procedures under which charges of anti-competitive practices are brought.

9. Dispute settlement. This is not a new area for international trade negotiation, but there are new mechanisms in place from regional agreements in the hemisphere to the WTO. Information is therefore crucial on the provisions of these agreements, their effectiveness, and the extent to which national laws and regulations may have to be altered if an ambitious dispute-settlement procedure is to be instituted in the FTAA.