By Shabiya Ali Ahlam Vi s i t ing Wo r ld Tr ade O r g a n i s a t i o n ( W T O ) representatives expressed keenness in working with Sri Lanka to help conform to the trade body’s hefty set of rules for protection, but implied the process will take longer than expected as relevant local agencies are yet to be conversant on the same. Wh i l e t h e b u s i n e s s community eagerly waits to see the implementation of the legislation for ‘anti-dumping and countervailing measures’, WTO, Geneva, Counsellor Clarisse Morgan asserted that establishing a trade remedy system in any given country, regardless of the size, is a concentrated exercise.
“It takes a lot of time and effort. The WTO cannot come here for a few days and convert any person, no matter how capable they are, into a trade remedy expert,” she told local business representatives at a national level workshop on trade remedies held in Colombo. Morgan added that the WTO “hopes very much” to work with Sri Lanka as the process unfolds and in the next few months so that the effort can move as swiftly and efficiently, enabling the creation of a system that will ultimately serve the need of the business community.
The WTO has laid out what can be called as set of hefty and complicated set of rules in areas including trade remedies, which essentially applies to the member governments. While individual business cannot seek solutions for their grievances directly with the WTO, it is the government that will have to take up the case on their behalf. For the government to take measures to protect the nation against unfair trade it will first have to see the establishment of a national legislation in line with the WTO rules. Secretary to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce T. M. K. B. Tennekoon said the government has acknowledged the importance of the legislation and is actively working on getting it implemented.
The long awaited legal draft on remedies has been submitted to the Cabinet for due processing to enact the legislation after a rigorous analysis and study by the state agencies, stakeholders and WTO. Noting that the policy is important to ensure product gain and market access in the regional and global markets, he said the challenge faced by local businesses is market access to these countries due to unfair trade practices because of competitors in the trade, rendering local products as noncompetitive. In that context,
Tennekoon asserted that the Article six of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) agreement on safe guarding and countervailing measures on subsidies is becoming increasingly pertinent to Sri Lanka’s trade potential. “We need an appropriate domestic legislation to ensure our domestic industries are protected from imports of international and not market economy countries,” he stated. Tennekoon stressed that to achieve this, the appropriate domestic legislation tailored to the local environment, and in conformity to the multilateral rule based system is of paramount importance.