Azerbaijan Can Miss Chance to Hold Fifth Round of Talks with WTO in March

Azerbaijan, Baku, 15 January/corr. Trend I. Khalilova/ The fifth round of talks between the Azerbaijani government and working group of the World Trade Organization may be held within the first half of March if the proposals on customs tariffs are forwarded to the WTO Secretariat in a month.

These proposals were sent back to the State Customs Committee after they had been viewed by the State Commission in preparation for the country to enter WTO. In addition to the updated variant of bound tariffs, State Customs Committee must submit to the WTO member states a document on the calculation of the average weighted rates of customs tariffs. WTO recommended Azerbaijan to develop an ad valorequivalent of the specific custom dues, but for the calculation of the average rate, its mechanism should be submitted first.

The specific custom tariffs are applied to excise goods such as alcohol and tobacco goods and automobiles. For ad valorcustom tariffs to be applied to all goods imported to Azerbaijan it is important to apply the same equivalent with respect to the specific goods. This issue has not been solved for several years, but at the current stage of the talks the solution of the problem cannot be avoided.

Bilateral talks that were expected to be held with USA, EU, South Korea, Japan and the Chinese province of Taiwan at the end of last year are delayed due to these proposals, namely the maximum limit of custom tariffs for the entrance to the Azerbaijani market.

The Azerbaijani Government deems it important to adopt a tariff policy in accordance with a long-term economic policy and for the protection of the local market.

The Azerbaijani Government proposed maximum tariffs on agricultural products at the rate of 50% to 80%, the average rates - 23%. The tariffs on industrial goods unlike the agricultural ones are more liberal and the maximum customs tariffs were proposed at the rate of 30% to 50%, the average up to 15%. The new proposals are not yet publicized as they are not yet approved.

The talks group will have to defend Azerbaijan's interests before the WTO member states such as USA and EU. EU, as one of the largest exporters of agricultural products all over the world, suggests decreasing the tariffs proposed by Azerbaijan. The tariffs on several goods are also proposed to be decreased to nil. Currently 15% customs tariffs are applied with respect to the final products, 0 to 0.5% to the raw materials in the industry.

Talks with Oman, Georgia, Moldova, Turkey and UAE have already been completed.

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