Azerbaijan proposes WTO to hold meeting
Azerbaijan, Baku, June 18 / Trend N. Ismayilova /
Azerbaijan proposes member-countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to hold a separate meeting of a working group on services, proposals, the negotiation group head, Azerbaijani deputy foreign minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev said.
Proposals for the services have already been sent to the secretariat of the WTO.
So our main task is to finalize proposals for goods to enter into bilateral negotiations and reach the working group meeting.
Time for another round of talks depends on the submission of proposals by the Azerbaijani side on goods to hold bilateral talks.
However, if the WTO member-states accept our proposal, we are ready to hold a separate meeting of the Working Group on Services and then on the goods ", Mammadguliyev said.
He said that Azerbaijan has not got updated proposals for the goods.
The governmental commission on the preparations for accession to the WTO prepared proposals in services for the U.S., EU, Japan and South Korea.
Bilateral and multilateral negotiations, the need for improvement "Bound" tariff on certain agricultural products and fish products were considered during the February meeting of the Azerbaijani governmental commission.
After July  meeting with the WTO Working Group [VII round of multilateral negotiations], along with U.S. and EU, questions and comments from Australia, concerning the schedule of domestic support and export subsidies which Azerbaijan is going to use have been received. The questions concerning tariffs were received from Brazil. The questions concerning both tariffs and services were received from South Korea.
Azerbaijan is striving for joining the WTO with the status of a developing country. It will allow the country to provide greater financial support to the agricultural sector, as in this case, the country will be able to keep subsidizing at the level of 10 percent of GDP produced in agriculture.
At present, subsidies to the agricultural sector of Azerbaijan are on average 14-15 percent. Taking into account the great need of the country's agriculture in support, Azerbaijan refuses from joining the WTO as a developed country, especially on what the U.S. insist, as it will allow getting access to subsidies at the level of five percent.
Restrictions are imposed on subsidies that affect the regulation of prices for agricultural products.
Reclamation, scientific and technical work can be also supported.
Some countries proposed to reduce customs tariffs, setting them below 15 percent, which today are the maximal rate of customs duty in Azerbaijan, during previous negotiations on international trade regime.
Customs duties are estimated at 30 percent in the proposals of the Azerbaijani government, but there are also higher. ["Bound" rates suggested by Azerbaijan are provided on a contingency to protect local production].
Tariff commitments are also main in the process of bilateral negotiations between the EU and the U.S. Besides the tariff policy, their claims were related to the liberalization of services on intellectual property. They suggest opening up markets in the financial, communication sector, a distribution service, the distribution area.
Azerbaijan is in the process of negotiations with the United States, Japan, Brazil, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, European Union, Norway, India, South Korea, Chinese Province of Taiwan. In 2009, Switzerland joined this list.
At present, negotiations are completed. The protocols were signed with Turkey, the Sultanate of Oman, United Arab Emirates, Georgia. The country is at the stage of signing the protocol with Moldova, which still considers the document. But Kyrgyzstan has agreed to sign it.
Recently, the WTO secretariat has expanded the working group on Azerbaijan by including four more countries - Ukraine, Brazil, Ecuador and Switzerland. As a result, the total number of members of the working group reached 32, including 27 EU countries.
A working group on Azerbaijan under the WTO was established July 16, 1997.
Since 1997, Azerbaijan has been represented at the World Trade Organization as an observer.