The World Customs Organization (WCO) organized an online Regional Workshop on Free Zones for the Americas and the Caribbean region from 23 to 25 May 2022, in close cooperation with the WCO Americas and the Caribbean Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB/AMS). 66 participants from 17 Member administrations joined the dialogue to explore the ways for a sustainable development of free zones with enhanced Customs involvement. This was the third regional workshop in a series of regional events aimed at discussing the harmonized and efficient implementation of the WCO Practical Guidance on Free Zones (FZ Guidance) that was endorsed by 2020 December Council.
The World Customs Organization (WCO) conducted a PCA monitoring and follow-up mission to the State Customs Committee (SCC) of the Republic of Uzbekistan from 30 May to 3 June 2022. The WCO has conducted four virtual support missions since April 2021, under the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs of Switzerland (SECO)-WCO Global Trade Facilitation Programme (GTFP), to enhance the PCA function within the SCC. This monitoring and follow-up mission was the last in a series of GTFP support activities to the SCC in the area of PCA implementation. This mission took place in Tashkent, led by WCO PCA experts with the full assistance of the SCC Secretariat and in close coordination with its PCA Department and other relevant services.
The chair of the fisheries subsidies negotiations, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, on 10 June submitted to WTO members a revised draft agreement for new global rules to curb harmful fishing subsidies. Released ahead of ministers’ arrival at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva, the text for consideration reflects delegates’ collective efforts in recent intensive meetings and suggests landing zones to bring over two decades of negotiations to a successful close.
WTO Director-General, and the UN High Representative for Least-Developed Countries signed a partnership agreement on 11 June in Geneva aimed at strengthening cooperation to boost the participation of least-developed countries in the global trading system. Trade ministers and WTO ambassadors from over 40 LDCs attended the ceremony on the eve of the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), which began on 12 June.
Madagascar notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it initiated on 1 June 2022 a safeguard investigation on paints.
At a meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 31 May, WTO members adopted two panel reports, one concerning Mexico’s challenge to Costa Rica’s restrictions on imports of fresh avocados from Mexico, the second concerning Turkey’s challenge to a European Union safeguard measure on restricting imports of certain steel products.
The Permanent Representatives of the Philippines and Thailand met at the WTO on 7 June 2022 and signed a bilateral “Understanding on Agreed Procedures Towards a Comprehensive Settlement of the Dispute in Thailand — Customs and Fiscal Measures on Cigarettes from the Philippines” (DS371).
The Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) on 8 June launched the Trade4MSMEs network, a partnership of international organizations aimed at improving the capacity of MSMEs to participate in world trade and promoting collaboration among members of the network.
The WTO Secretariat has updated the joint indicative list compiling information on critical inputs for the manufacturing, distributing and administering of COVID-19 vaccines. The list was initially produced jointly with the World Customs Organization, the Asian Development Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, some COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, researchers Chad Bown and Chris Rogers, DHL, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the Life Science Manufacturers’ Association. The revised version incorporates feedback from industry and includes information on new critical inputs that have been identified.
Twenty-four government officials from 14 WTO members and observers are attending the WTO’s first online Regional Trade Policy Course for the Asia-Pacific region taking place from 23 May to 25 August 2022. Co-organized with the Shanghai University for International Business and Economics, the course seeks to build participants’ trade-related capacity by improving understanding of the multilateral trading system and the work of the WTO.