THIRD ROUND OF GSTP LAUNCHED AT UNCTAD XI
Date : 18 Jun 2004
Location : New Delhi
The third round of the Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP) among developing countries was launched at a special ministerial session of UNCTAD XI with the adoption of the Sao Paolo Declaration in Sao Paolo (Brazil) yesterday. Participants expressed strong support to revitalise the GSTP and to ensure the success of the third round of negotiations through broader and deeper exchange of tariff preferences among the developing countries. The Agreement on GSTP, which was signed by 48 members of G-77 in 1988, was the first instrument available to developing countries for promoting trade and economic cooperation among developing countries.
In a statement of the Commerce and Industry Minister Mr. Kamal Nath, India articulated its support for the rejuvenation of GSTP as the broadening of trade and economic cooperation across the full breadth of developing countries would bring with it the attendant benefits of increased investment flows, transfer of technology and maximisation of the economic strengths of each country, besides boosting south-south trade. Developing countries are today emerging as a force in international trade, representing a third in world trade in goods and a fourth of trade in services. India expressed the hope that the third round of GSTP negotiations would achieve significant reduction in barriers to trade among countries of the south, which would not only enhance south-south trade but also contribute to the development solidarity that had come about as a result of the new trade geography of nations.
In recent years, developing countries have themselves become enthusiastic participants in regional trade arrangements and trade liberalization, either unilaterally, regionally or as part of the Uruguay Round commitments, which has resulted in a sharp increase in south-south trade. But far from eroding the scope of preferential schemes such as the GSTP, the importance and relevance of GSTP stands enhanced. As developing countries become more comfortable with tariff reductions, much wider range of products and more substantial preferences can be offered under the GSTP. GSTP could also be used to draw in countries that have so far benefited little from trade preferences. It can thus act as a bridge between various regional arrangements giving a much-needed boost to inter-regional trade. In this context, India said it fully endorsed the recommendation of the participants to invite all members of the G-77 and China – that are not members of the GSTP - to participate in the third round of the GSTP negotiations as this step would enhance market access opportunities for the developing countries and promotion of south-south trade among all developing nations as equal partners.