SCED hails benefits to HK following conclusion of the Bali Package at WTO
The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, welcomes the conclusion of the Bali Package at the Ninth Ministerial Conference (MC9) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) held in Bali, Indonesia from December 3 to 6.
"It is a breakthrough in the multilateral trade negotiations by sealing the first-ever trade package since the WTO was established in 1995. Amongst the various elements of the Bali Package, the new Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) will particularly benefit Hong Kong as an international trading hub and related industries, notably trading and logistics," Mr So said today (December 8).
The WTO TFA sets out binding obligations for all WTO Members to improve and harmonise their import/export and customs formalities and procedures. It will make cross-border trade easier, and help reduce costs and improve efficiency for both businesses and governments.
According to the WTO, the TFA may reduce worldwide barriers to global supply chains and red tape by half, and expand the world economy by about 4.5 per cent (i.e. US$ 1 trillion). The World Economic Forum also estimates that, by reducing barriers to global supply chains, the TFA will have an effect on raising global GDP which is six times that of eliminating all import tariffs.
"Hong Kong, being an export-oriented economy and a trading centre, will stand to benefit from the TFA," Mr So pointed out.
The other elements of the Bali Package cover specific Agriculture and Development issues. The outcomes include provision of flexibility for developing and least-developed Members to address their concerns in food security, improvement of tariff rate quota administration and export subsidies in agricultural trade, market access and development assistance for cotton products from least developed countries (LDCs), establishment of a Monitoring Mechanism for monitoring special and differential treatment given to developing countries, as well as improved access of LDCs' products and services to the developed countries' markets. They would assist the integration of the developing and least developed Members into the multilateral trading system.
"Being a staunch supporter of the multilateral trading system, Hong Kong is most encouraged that all WTO Members were able to deliver a successful and balanced Bali Package. This is a package that brings tremendous economic growth, creates jobs and provides business opportunities for the world.
"We will continue to work closely with other WTO Members and take an active role in the multilateral trade negotiations, particularly those in the services sectors and information technology products, to secure the best possible market access for Hong Kong suppliers, and provide the best possible environment for Hong Kong to attract foreign investment," Mr So added.
Trade ministers and officials from 159 Members attended the MC9 of the WTO. Intensive consultations were conducted almost round the clock until a deal on Bali Package was agreed on December 7.
The Package marked a historic progress for the early harvest of a selection of issues from the broader Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations that were launched in 2001. It rebuilds the credibility of the WTO as a negotiating body to pursue multilateral trade liberalisation and gives new impetus to its exploration of post-Bali work programmes.
The DDA negotiations aim at achieving liberalisation in the trade of agricultural products, industrial goods and services; clarifying and improving trade rules and making new rules; as well as addressing the concerns of developing economies.
Sunday, December 8, 2013