Cuba’s ratification of trade preferences pact welcomed
13 May 2013
Cuba’s ratification of the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade
Preferences (GSTP) will accelerate implementation of the agreement,
other GSTP participants have said.?
Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP)
Meeting in Geneva at the thirtieth session of the Committee of
Participants on 7 May, the GSTP members welcomed Cuba’s ratification of
the São Paulo Protocol.
The GSTP is a preferential trade agreement that is intended to boost
trade between developing countries. It first entered into force in 1989,
and is administered by UNCTAD. Signatory countries to the latest pact,
namely the São Paulo Round Protocol, agree to offer each other, once
sufficient ratifications are obtained, preferential tariff treatment in
regard to their intra-group trade in goods.
In January 2013, Cuba notified UNCTAD of the completion of its
ratification process, and submitted the instrument of ratification. Cuba
is the third signatory to the São Paulo Round Protocol to complete
ratification procedures. The other two signatories to do so are India
and Malaysia. According to the São Paulo Round Protocol, the
ratification of at least four signatories is required in order for it to
enter into force. That is to say, the ratification of one more country
will bring tariff-reduction commitments made during the Round into
effective application among the signatories concerned.
Endorsing the GSTP agreement, a representative of Cuba said that the
country had made significant efforts to deliver on ratification of the
Protocol, as it attached the utmost importance to the Protocol as an
instrument for enhancing South-South trade. The official said that Cuba
invited other signatories that had yet to ratify to follow suit. Other
participants at the meeting congratulated Cuba on its achievement,
saying that it was a major step towards early implementation of the São
Paulo Round results.
The São Paulo Round Protocol embodies the results of trade negotiations
conducted under the Third Round of GSTP negotiations launched in São
Paulo, Brazil, in 2004, on the margins of the UNCTAD XI quadrennial
conference. The Round was concluded at a GSTP ministerial meeting held
in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, on 15 December 2010. Twenty-two of the 43 GSTP
parties participated in the Round, and 8 parties (or 11 countries, if
members of the MERCOSUR group – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay
– are counted separately) exchanged tariff concessions among themselves
by adopting the Protocol. The signatories are MERCOSUR, the Republic of
Korea, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco and Cuba.
The São Paulo Round signatories have agreed to reduce their applied
tariffs by 20 per cent on at least 70 per cent of products to which
duties are applied. Tariff concessions exchanged cumulatively under the
pact cover some 47,000 tariff lines. Effective implementation of these
commitments, once the Protocol enters into force, is expected to bring
significant commercial benefits. Cuba’s ratification brings the
signatories closer to this eventuality.
The Committee of Participants is the governing body established under
the GSTP agreement. It is composed of all 43 parties to the GSTP
agreement. The Committee is chaired by Wafaa Bassim, Ambassador of Egypt
to the United Nations and other specialized agencies in Switzerland, and
is serviced by the UNCTAD secretariat through its Division on
International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities.