Committee on Liberalization of Foreign Trade, Economic Globalization and Financing for Development, 10th session
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) convened the 10th session for its Technical Committee on Liberalization of Foreign trade, Economic Globalization and Financing for Development on 22 and 23 November 2015 in Cairo, Egypt.
The session opened on 22 November 2015 and focused on the establishment of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) and the initiation of an Arab customs union (ACU). The session meetings commenced with a review of the progress made in implementing ESCWA activities relating to foreign trade within the framework of its programme of work for the biennia 2012-2013 and 2014-2015. The Committee also followed up on the recommendations adopted at its seventh session, given that its eighth and ninth sessions addressed topics related to financing for development.
Furthermore, the Committee provided an analysis of the importance and structure of non-tariff measures and reviewed their economic impact in four selected member States. It also tackled the fiscal challenges facing Arab countries in preparation for an ACU. An analysis of the institutional framework requirements for the initiation, monitoring and assessment of a customs union was presented, as well as possible scenarios for the establishment of an ACU and its associated economic impact assessment on Arab countries. In addition to this, the working sessions included a presentation from the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the rules governing the creation of customs unions for WTO member countries. The League of Arab States reviewed the progress achieved in the negotiation process for an ACU.
This was followed by a round-table meeting, providing a platform for member State representatives from ministries of trade and transport to express their concerns and exchange ideas and experiences related to the challenges and opportunities associated with the implementation of GAFTA and the establishment of an ACU.
Member States had also the opportunity to examine the proposed ESCWA work programme for the biennium 2016-2017 in the field of trade.
A joint session was planned with the Committee on Transport, whose sixteenth session was taking place concurrently with the tenth session of the Technical Committee to launch and discussed the first issue of the ESCWA report entitled “Assessing Arab Economic Integration: towards a Customs Union”.