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WASHINGTON, USA: The World Trade Organisation last week concluded a three-day formal review of Belize’s trade policy, completing a process begun in April of this year. The oral hearings were opened with a presentation by Eamon Courtenay.
WASHINGTON, USA: The World Trade Organisation last week concluded a three-day formal review of Belize’s trade policy, completing a process begun in April of this year.
The oral hearings were opened last week with a presentation by Eamon Courtenay, the Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Trade, who sought to underscore the government’s commitment to liberalising the economy within an acceptable timeframe.
“In the current global political environment, we believe greater integration into the international economy can assist us to reach our growth potential, broaden our economic base, while also ensuring that all segments of the population benefit from increased economic welfare,” stated Courtenay.
“We therefore underscore the principle that any integration agreement (between asymmetric parties) must take due account of the special needs of developing countries and the vulnerabilities endemic to small developing states,” he added.
Complimentary remarks were made by representatives of several international governments who took to the floor during the discussion, including the United States, the European Union, Japan, Canada and Taiwan, regarding steps already taken by Belize to establish the National Trade Negotiating Commission, to reduce tariffs, to transform the public utilities sectors, and to further integrate into CARICOM.
However, Belize was also criticised by some of these countries for aspects of its trade policy, which remain inconsistent with commitments made to the WTO.
In a bilateral meeting with Dr Supachai, Director General of the WTO, who has appealed for “flexibility from developing countries” in meeting the July deadline for agreeing the framework of future negotiations, Minister Courtenay stated that the current 'Doha' round of trade talks is a ‘development’ round, and that the main beneficiaries should be the developing countries. The Doha Round is in fact seen by many commentators as being at risk because of the intransigent attitude of many of the smaller, developing countries.
“We are prepared to be flexible if and only if the framework agreement advances the interests of the developing countries,” he told the Director General.