Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nigeria trade policy review

Nigeria Trade Policy Review on June 28 and 30, 2011 – Highlights of the Executive Summary on Nigeria from the WTO Website

1. Items of Trade- Majority of the trade happen in Oil, wholesale and retail trade, communications and agriculture. Amongst the above mentioned, increased trade is taking place in Oil and agricultural sectors.

2. Imports and Export duties - Nigeria is imposing tariffs in lines with the ECOWAS external common tariffs. However, the “gap between average applied MFN tariff rates and average bound rates and the low coverage of bindings makes the tariff quite unpredictable and acts as a discentive to foreign direct investment”. The government imposes different duties on imports that vary from products to products. The governmental policy stipulating that imports entering Nigeria by roads cannot be in containers is also disadvantageous, as the government has not taken sufficient measures to address the traffic congestion at the seaports.

There are two Import Prohibition lists in existence. (a) The Absolute Import Prohibition List is based on grounds of morality, security and health whereas the (b) Import Prohibition List is based on ideals of protection of domestic industry. The exports are also subjected to taxes. There is also an Export Prohibition List in existence. The summary report says that a new legislation is in the pipeline to do away with the Export Prohibitions List.

3. Regulatory Procedures - Though the customs procedures have become simplified, it still requires updation and has to be substituted by modern processing and clearing methodology and techniques. A new legislation is also underway to replace the Customs and Exchange Management Act, which is expected to come into force during the current year. The Public Procurement Act, 2007 is expected to reduce corruption and to improve transparency and efficiency in the public procurement process.

4. The System at present and Plans for Future - Nigeria is keen on providing tax and tariff related incentives to promote investments and proposes to develop Export Processing Zones, the activities of which are looked after by the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority. To improve the scope for services, A One Stop Investment Centre was opened by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission in March 2006

5. The Summary also discusses the uneven nature of privatisation in different sectors, the challenges faced at the agrarian sector which represents over half of employment of Nigerian population, the challenges faced by the gas and oil sector which is critical to the economy of the country, the problem pertaining to inadequate generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, the weakening of banking industry following the days of economic recession, etc.

6. Towards the conclusion, the Report also observes that the further diversification and growth of the economy could be made possible through attracting private investments. The lack of information and the poor co-ordination between agencies have been considered as reasons inter alia for the slow pace of change in some areas of Nigeria.

Ann Thania Alex
NALSAR, Hyderabad

Thursday, August 26, 2010

WTO Panel Report Submitted in Australia Apples Case

WTO Panel submitted report in the Australian Apples case, where Newzealand lodged a complaint against the phytosanitary measures practised by Australia against the imported apples from Newzealand. On March 2007, the Australia’s Director of Plant and Animal Quarantine had stated that the importation of apples from Newzealand should be subject to the Quarantine Act of 1908 and ‘final import risk analysis report for apples’ from Newzealand, brought out in November 2006. Newzealand had claimed that Australia’s policy was violative of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement. Though attempts were sought to initiate panel discussions in 2007, ultimately the constitution of the panel saw the light of the day on January 2008. The nature of the dispute along with the panel’s decision to seek expert scientific and technical advice in accordance with Article 11 of the SPS Agreement and Article 13 of DSU consequently resulted in the delay of more than 2 years from the normal timeline of six months. The panel report that was circulated on August 9, 2010 addressed 16 phytosanitary measures used by Australia as not based on proper risk assessment and thereby inconsistent with article 5.1 and 5.2 of the SPS Agreement and by implication inconsistent with Article 2.2 of SPS Agreement, which requires maintaining of SPS measures based on scientific principles. Out of the 16 measures, 13 are pest-specific ones and the panel found those measures as trade restrictive and inconsistent with Article 5.6 of the SPS agreement. The latest reports say that Australia will appeal against the ruling.

Ann Thania Alex
LL.M. IInd year
NALSAR, Hyderabad

Friday, July 30, 2010

India’s Foreign Trade: May, 2010

EXPORTS (including re-exports) 

Exports during May, 2010 were valued at US $ 16145 million (Rs. 73964 crore) which was 35.1 per cent higher in dollar terms (27.5 per cent higher in Rupee terms) than the level of US $ 11952 million (Rs.58005 crore) during May, 2009. Cumulative value of exports for the period April-May 2010  was US $ 33032 million (Rs 149111 crore) as against US $ 24349 million (Rs. 120069 crore) registering a  growth of 35.7  per cent in Dollar terms and 24.2  per cent in Rupee terms over the same period last year.


Imports during May, 2010 were valued at US $ 27437 million (Rs.125694  crore) representing a growth of 38.5 per cent in dollar terms (30.8 per cent in Rupee terms)  over the level of imports valued at US $ 19806 million ( Rs. 96125 crore) in May, 2009. Cumulative value of imports for the period April-May, 2010 was US $ 54745 million (Rs. 247211 crore) as against US $ 38858 million (Rs. 191502 crore) registering a growth of 40.9 per cent in Dollar terms and 29.1 per cent in Rupee terms over the same period last year.


Oil imports during May, 2010 were valued at US $ 8844 million which was 66.7  per cent higher than oil imports valued at US $  5306 million in the corresponding period last year.   Oil imports during April-May, 2010 were valued at US$ 16923 million which was 68.5 per cent higher than the oil imports of US $ 10045 million in the corresponding period last year.  

Non-oil imports during May, 2010 were estimated at US $ 18593 million which was 28.2 per cent higher than non-oil imports of US $ 14500 million in May, 2009. Non-oil imports during April - May, 2010 were valued at US$ 37822 million which was 31.3 per cent higher than the level of such imports valued at US$ 28813 million in April - May, 2009


The trade deficit for April - May, 2010 was estimated at US $ 21712 million which was higher than the deficit of US $ 14509 million during April -May, 2009.

Manish Sharma
Faculty of Law,
ICFAI University, Dehradun,
E-mail: msharma28@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).

On July 18, 2010, Afghanistan and Pakistan reached a landmark agreement on a transit trade deal. The new deal will allow Afghanistan to use the Wagah land route in Pakistan to transport goods by land to India. However, Indian products cannot be sent in the opposite direction.

The use of this land route to connect Afghanistan to India had been a major source of contention during the talks, with Pakistan asserting that India is not meant to be covered by the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).

Other provisions of the final agreement include sea access for Afghanistan, via Pakistan's ports, along with the opportunity for Pakistan to use Afghanistan as a gateway to the rest of Central Asia. The agreement also aims to standardise customs and transit permit arrangements. The pact is expected to be a huge boost to the Afghan economy, especially for pomegranate producers and other farmers, who will now have much easier access to international markets.

The Agreement is expected to contribute in the development of South Asia where the transport of goods from Afghanistan to India will be much easier now which will cut the transaction cost. And it will bring Afghanistan into the mainstream of the South Asian Trading Environment. This Agreement, further, can be made a platform for the liberalization of trade relations within the SAARC Region.

Manish Sharma
Faculty of Law,
ICFAI University, Dehradun,
E-mail: msharma28@gmail.com

Thimphu 'Silver Jubilee' Declaration - “Towards a Green and Happy South Asia”


The Sixteenth Meeting of the Head of the States or Governments of Member Countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was held on April 28-29, 2010 in Thimpu, Bhutan. The theme of the Summit was 'Climate Change'. The Leaders welcomed Climate Change as the theme for the Summit and reaffirmed their commitment to address this challenge. They also adopted the 'Thimphu Statement on Climate Change' and directed that the recommendations contained therein be implemented in earnest. During the Summit the Leaders expressed the satisfaction that SAARC has achieved a number of important milestones with the completion of twenty five years of its establishment. Off course, the twenty five years standing and survivorship of SAARC as an organization in spite of bitterness of bilateral relations of two major power of the region India and Pakistan, is itself an evidence of its success.


In the Silver Jubilee Year of SAARC, the Leaders emphasized the need to develop a 'Vision Statement'. They agreed to form a 'South Asia Forum' which will consist of eminent personalities of diverse background including from all SAARC Member States. The Forum would provide inputs based on a comprehensive understanding for charting out the future course of SAARC in the medium and long run and recommend the necessary improvements required in the existing mechanisms.


The Leaders emphasized upon the participation of each and every section of the South Asian Community, particularly its students and youth, private media, private sector, think tanks, civil society and institution of economic development. The Leaders recognized the need to draw on the democratic and participatory tradition collectively represented by the Parliamentarians of South Asia for the progress of SAARC. The Leaders were eager to encourage the involvement of private sector in the regional development though the public-private partnership. In this context, they recommended the convening of a "Conclave of SAARC Parliamentarians" in line with the SAARC Charter and directed the SAARC Secretariat to convene of Working Group, comprising nominees of the Member States, to work out the modalities for establishment of such a Conclave.


In the two days Summit, Bhutan pursued the Concept of Gross national Happiness (GNH) for ensuring the people-centric development, culture, preservation of environment, better governance. Other Member States also welcomed Bhutan's offer to host a SAARC Workshop on GNH in 2010. The SAARC meeting took note on deepening regional efforts on poverty alleviation. Further, the Member States welcomed the offer of the Government of Nepal to host the Third Ministerial Meeting on Poverty Alleviation in 2011.


In pursuance of the recommendation contained in the SAARC Ministerial Statement on Environment on conservation of aquatic ecosystem, trans boundary bio-diversity zones, automated network of weather stations and regular and systematic sharing of scientific data. The Leaders called for focus on water management and conservation and development of cooperative projects at regional level in terms of exchange of best practices and knowledge, capacity building and transfer of eco-friendly technology. They were deeply concerned by the extent of environmental degradation in the region. They welcomed the signing of the SAARC Convention on Cooperation on Environment and called for its early ratification and implementation.


Further they showed satisfaction for the ongoing initiatives in promoting gender equality and women's empowerment through regional cooperation. The Government of Maldives announce to nominate a Woman Secretary General as the Tenth Secretary General of SAARC which can be proved another milestone in the path of achieving goals for regional cooperation. Recognizing the important role young people play in the region, the Leaders directed the development of a SAARC Youth Action Plan, in line with the SAARC Youth Charter to guide regional cooperation in this area.


The Member States cheered upon the ratification of the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) Charter and also the inauguration and operationalization of the Permanent Secretariat of the SDF including the appointment of its first Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Leaders emphasized the need for the Member States to take full advantage of the mechanism of the SDF through expeditious clearance and implementation of the projects and programmes to promote the welfare of the people of the SAARC region, to improve their quality of life and to accelerate economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in the region.

The Ministers urged the need to implement the SAFTA in letter and spirit. They emphasised on the removal of non-tariff, para-tariff and other trade distorting barriers with the strong working of SAFTA Ministerial Council. The Leaders welcomed the signing of the SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services and expressed that this will open up new vistas of trade cooperation and further deepen the integration of the regional economies. They called for the early ratification of the Agreement.


The Leaders noted with appreciation that SAARC Commerce Ministers had coordinated SAARC position on WTO Issues and Doha Development Agenda during the Seventh WTO Ministerial Conference and agreed on the SAARC Ministerial Communiqué. They directed the Commerce Ministers to continue the process.


The Leaders called for collaborative efforts to achieve greater intra-regional connectivity and endorsed the recommendation to declare 2010-2020 as the "Decade of Intra-regional Connectivity in SAARC". They agreed on the need to expedite negotiations with a view to finalizing the two agreements on Motor Vehicles and Railways.


The need to enhance cooperation was felt in the energy sector to facilitate energy trade, development of efficient conventional and renewable energy sources including hydropower. The Leaders agreed that an Action Plan on Energy conservation would be prepared by the SAARC Energy Centre (SEC), Islamabad with inputs from the Member States and submit to the inter- governmental mechanism for consideration. They called for the creation of a web portal on Energy Conservation for exchange of information and sharing of best practices among SAARC Member States.


Further the countries, Australia, the People's Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mauritius, the Union of Myanmar, the United States of America and the European Union were given the observer status during the summit, whereas Australia and Myanmar attended the Summit for the first time.  The Seventeenth Summit shall be held in Maldives in 2011.

Manish Sharma
LL.B. (Hons.), LL.M. (International Trade and Business Laws)
Faculty of Law,
ICFAI University, Dehradun,
E-mail: msharma28@gmail.com
Mobile No.: +91 9012372533

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Update: LL.M. International Exchange Program at NALSAR

Yes, it is true that NALSAR has given this golden opportunity to three students pursuing their LL.M. and are specializing in fields like Intellectual property laws and International Trade and Business Laws. For a change this time the focus for academic development and international exposure to students has been shared with the LL.M. species at NALSAR and these students have been given a valuable chance to expose themselves to the international atmosphere. Three students have been selected from amongst a class of 60 students. They will be studying at the Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario, Canada for a period of eight months.

Now we can say that LL.M. in India is also going places.

Will be back with more updates…

Visit NALSAR website here
Visit Faculty of Law Exchange program of Faculty of Law University of Western Ontario, Canada here