Over 150 WTO member countries agree on historic trade deal

Over 150 WTO member countries agree on historic trade deal

Written by Bella Dalima

11 Dec, 2013 | 11:12 pm

The 159 member countries of the World Trade Organisation agreed on a historic trade deal at the 9th ministerial conference in Bali, Indonesia which will add one trillion US dollars to the global economy.

After fruitless negotiations for 12 years the WTO reached an accord in Bali Indonesia this month which made it the first global agreement struck by the Geneva based body since its inception in 1995.

The three main aspects that were agreed upon by all the WTO member countries were trade facilitation, Agriculture and Development.

At present WTO members are engaged in the Doha round of negotiations known as the Doha Development Agenda because of its focus on development issues.

The round was launched in 2001 and focused on negotiations in agricultural and non agricultural market access, trade facilitation, implementation issues of developing countries and issues of concern to least developed countries. However, the progress on the DDA slowed down considerably since 2008 with two ministerial conferences in 2009 and 2011 ended with no negotiations.

Director of institute of Policy Studies Economist, Dr. Saman Kelegama shared these thoughts;

“The exporters cost of doing business with China will be cut by 10 percent due to this trade facilitation package. Imports also will face less barriers at the customs. With the Doha Development Agenda the multilateral trading system, has got a boost. WTO has become stronger. So all countries will have to abide by the WTO rules and regulations and this in turn will be beneficial for developing countries.”

Will this trade deal which is being lauded the world over, have any realistic effect on the lives of ordinary Sri Lankans? Economists say that the historic trade deal will speed up customs procedures, make trade easier faster and cheaper and even promises extra growth and job opportunities, globally. But the question that still resonates is whether Sri Lanka will be on course, to reap the benefits from this historic deal, in international trade.

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