Accession of the Republic of Cape Verde to the World Trade Organization
Cape Verde became the 153rd Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on July 23rd, 2009. Its application was received by the General Council on November 11, 1999, and substantive negotiations commenced in March 2004 with the first meeting of the Working Party established to conduct the multilateral negotiations. Throughout the negotiations, Cape Verde emphasized its intent to use the accession process to support its own reform policies. The Working Party adopted Cape Verde's accession package in November 2007, and the December 2007 General Counsel approved it.
The United Nations had identified Cape Verde on its list of least-developed countries (LDCs) because of the country's low level of income and economic development. This status entitled Cape Verde to certain flexibilities in the accessions negotiations, including transitions for implementation of certain WTO obligations, as provided for in WTO General Council Decision of 10 December 2002 on the Accession of Least-Developed Countries. That status terminated on January 1, 2008.
Cape Verde's efforts to accede to the WTO were supported by technical assistance from the United States, including a resident WTO advisor and a number of short-term assignments, e.g., in services, agriculture, and SPS. The European Union also provided technical advice and assistance.
Results of the Negotiations
The overall results achieved in the negotiations are significant, and should greatly assist Cape Verde in its efforts to use international trade as part of its economic development plan.. Cape Verde modified a number of its laws to eliminate existing barriers to trade and to bring its trading regime into conformity with WTO rules. While it was not necessary for Cape Verde, as an LDC negotiating accession, to fully implement WTO commitments from the date of accession, Cape Verde implemented a number of WTO obligations from the start, e.g., in the areas of domestic taxation, customs charges and fees, rules of origin, and licensing procedures, greatly simplifying requirements for importers and exporters. Cape Verde adopted the common external tariff of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Cape Verde will also join the Information Technology Agreement and the Agreement on Trade in Civil Aircraft, phasing in duty-free tariff treatment on imports of electronic and telecommunications equipment, aircraft and aircraft parts over six to ten years. Cape Verde undertook commitments in trade in services consistent with its status as an LDC, but also broadly covering most sectors, e.g., financial, telecommunications, distribution, courier, professional and other business-related; computer and related, energy related, and audio-visual services. Cape Verde also committed to enhanced transparency for laws and regulations affecting trade in goods, services, and TRIPS, and confirmed ongoing efforts to provide comprehensive publication of laws and regulations for comment prior to implementation. Cape Verde also confirmed its intention to establish a dedicated journal or website for this purpose. Such enhanced transparency will encourage trade and reduce costs.
On May 12, 2009, the WTO Council on Trade in Goods approved a request from Cape Verde for a waiver to delay implementation of its tariff liberalizing commitments until January 1, 2010, due to the impact of the global economic crisis on tariff revenues.