Below is the statement as delivered on 25 October by Ambassador Harald Neple, Norway’s Permanent Representative to the WTO and EFTA.
Norway attaches great priority to trade as a tool for development, which is why the Norwegian GSP scheme grants duty and quota free access to all products from LDCs. We encourage those WAEMU countries that have not yet provided the necessary documents to benefit from our GSP system to do so. There is still potential for growth in our bilateral trade with the WAEMU countries. Norwegian companies and institutions are showing an interest in the WAEMU countries, a trend that we hope will continue.
The members of WAEMU have faced serious political challenges during the last decade. In recent years, developments have been positive. Increased intraregional trade and macroeconomic stability will no doubt contribute to a further consolidation of political stability in the region.
We applaud that the secretariat has produced a report on the West African Economic and Monetary Union, while also reporting on the individual members. Although harmonization varies and integration takes time, it is important that the developments of the union as a whole, as well as developments of the individual countries are reviewed in tandem.
The process of preparing the TPR brings together all relevant trade-related institutions within a country. This provides a good basis for further refining the member’s trade policy and strategy and implementing necessary reform. For the 7 LDC members of WAEMU, the TPR presumably draws upon their current Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies (DTIS) funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework or trade strategies developed as a result of such DTIS. We would be interested in knowing if this is the case, and also how instrumental the EIF National Implementation Units were in the coordination and work on the TPR. This information can also help us assess to which degree Technical Assistance and Capacity Building to increase LDCs’ participation in trade actually work.
Norway welcomes the coastal WAEMU states’ engagement in the fisheries subsidies negotiations, and especially Senegal’s very active and constructive participation as focal point for the LDCs. We hope this both continues and increases. Western Africa’s development of its fisheries is important. Expanding and improving fisheries management need to be a priority. The FAO/Norwegian research ship (HnoMS) Fridtjof Nansen has been sailing down the western coast of Africa since May this year, assessing among other things pelagic stocks and ecosystems and training local experts in fisheries management.
With their small missions in Geneva, the WAEMU countries have managed to remain as active as possible in the WTO. We look forward to continue engaging with the WAEMU delegations in the coming months, not least in the field of fisheries subsidies in order to achieve our joint objective; namely to implement SDG 14.6 in the WTO.
Norway looks forward to a constructive exchange of views on all aspects of the WAEMU countries’ trade policies over these two days.
For more information, see the dedicated page
for the TPR of WAEMU on the WTO's website.