12 years on, EU’s certified WTO goods commitments now up to date to 2004

Just before Christmas and almost unnoticed, the WTO circulated the EU’s “schedules” of commitments on goods (not services) to reflect its 2004 expansion from 15 to 25 members. They are also the UK’s current official WTO commitments. What are they?

By Peter Ungphakorn

UPDATE: on October 17, 2017, the EU circulated revised goods “schedules” for all its 28 members. If no WTO member objects these could be certified in three months. Apart from accounting for the expansion to 28, the revisions include other modifications, including ending agricultural export subsidies.

For the first time since the WTO was set up in 1995, the EU will then be up-to-date with its goods schedules (but not services), until the UK leaves.

The documents using code number G/MA/TAR/RS/506 are visibly listed on the WTO website but remain unavailable to the public until they are certified.

Some pretty important documents were issued in Geneva by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on December 14, 2016 as Europe started to close down for Christmas and the New Year. They have flown under the radar.

Twelve years after the EU expanded from 15 to 25 members on 1 May 2004, it now has revised commitments on tariffs, tariff quotas and agricultural subsidies to take into account the addition of those 10 new members (you can download them below). Continue reading “12 years on, EU’s certified WTO goods commitments now up to date to 2004”

Oranges: a litmus test of UK post-Brexit tariff negotiations

The UK currently charges complex import duties on oranges thanks to the EU. Will they survive Brexit? And will other countries want a say? Exploring post-Brexit tariffs: part 3

By Peter Ungphakorn

1. The goods schedule for the EU’s enlargement in 2004 to 25 members (EU–25) was certified and circulated in December 2016. For oranges, the tariffs and tariff quota are unchanged. Details are here

2. Some of the EU’s import duties on oranges from South Afirca are being eliminaged gradually under the EU-Sothern African Development Community(SADC ) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which took effect from October 10, 2016. The details are pretty complicated. It has already scrapped duty on imports in the period June 1 to October 15. Over nine years the duty-free period is being exended by six weeks to 30 November but apparently starting from 16%. During the Mediterranean harvest period imports are still charged duty, although from April 1 to May 31 it seems to be 12%. See this press release, and the full text of the agreement including tariff reductions (pdf).

The UK can easily adopt the EU’s customs duties as its own after Brexit. That’s a common assumption, and for most of the thousands of traded products it’s likely to be true, both for the actual duties charged and for the commitments the UK will re-establish in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

But with many other products the UK might find that simply carrying on with the EU’s duty rates is not so easy, particularly in agriculture. A lot depends on how other countries react. Oranges are as good an indicator of their possible reactions as any other product. Continue reading “Oranges: a litmus test of UK post-Brexit tariff negotiations”