Report Of The Ninth Meeting Of High Level Trade Officials (HLTO) Of D-8 Countries 27-28 March 2008, Islamabad, Pakistan
1.The Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan hosted the 9th Meeting of High Level Trade Officials (HLTO) of the D-8 Countries in Islamabad, on 27-28 March 2008. The delegations from all Member States attended the meeting. The list of participants is at Annex I.
2.The Meeting was inaugurated by Syed Asif Shah, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Pakistan. In his opening address he welcomed H.E Dr Dipo Alam, Secretary General of D-8 and the other delegates. He urged the members to show flexibility and move ahead with consensus. He mentioned the aspirations of the D-8 leaders contained in the Bali Declaration whereby they resolved to increase economic integration and promote trade. The successful conclusion of these negotiations, he emphasised, would be instrumental in realising the vision of the D-8 leaders. The text of the address is at Annex II.
3.The Secretary General D-8 in his address appreciated the work done by the HLTO for reaching consensus on all major issues of the D-8 PTA. He urged all the member countries to conclude the Rules of Origin to operationalize the PTA at the earliest. The text of his speech is at Annex-III.
4.The Member countries elected Mr. Shahid Bashir, Senior Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Pakistan, as Chairman of the meeting.
5.The agenda of the meeting (Annex IV) was adopted unanimously.
6.The threshold of local value addition (Rule 4) was discussed at length by the members. All the members, except Egypt and Bangladesh, agreed to 40% criteria for local value addition. Egypt informed the meeting that any value addition criteria below 50% was not acceptable to them. On the other hand, Bangladesh proposed special and differential treatment for the Least Developed Countries (LDC) in complying with the local value addition content. In this regard, Bangladesh rieterated its earlier position i.e., 30% local value addition content for conferring origin to products from LDCs. The other members were of the view that differential and special treatment was already available for the LDCs under the PTA Agreement where they have eight years to reduce tariff as compared to four years for other members states. The majority of the members were of the view that the General Rule for conferring origin to Not Wholly Obtained Goods should be based on a single value addition criteria. Accepting multiple criteria for different members would not only be difficult to implement but also cause discrimination against other members. The Members urged Egypt and Bangladesh to show flexibility, move ahead with majority concensus and finalize the text. It was agreed that the members would finalize the text and Egypt and Bangladesh were welcome to join as and when they are ready to adopt the agreed text.
7.Egypt and Turkey insisted to keep the Egyptian proposal regarding the article of Prohibition of drawback which was proposed since the Seventh Meeting. However, this proposal was not accepted by the majority of the members.
8.The Meeting considered the outstanding issues on the Draft text of the Rules of Origin along with the amendments proposed by other members. The final version of text of the Rules of Origin is at Annex V. Members to communicate editorial changes (if any) electronically to the Secretariat by end April 2008.
9.The meeting agreed to adopt the Operational Certification Procedure for the OIC TPS mutatis mutandis for the D-8 PTA. The text of the OCP would be finalized in the next meeting of HLTO.
10.It was agreed that the members would submit their Offer List for D-8 PTA by 30 April, 2008 to the D-8 Secretariat through the diplomatic channels.
11.The next meeting of HLTO will be held before the D-8 Summit in Malaysia. The time and venue will be coordinated by the D-8 Secretariat subsequently.