HONG KONG WANTS TMB TO BE MORE OPEN

GENEVA — Hong Kong called last week for the World Trade Organization’s Textile Monitoring Body to remove the veil of secrecy that surrounds many of its rulings. “We feel that more light can still be shed on the deliberations of this important body which monitors a very significant portion of world trade,” Stuart Harbinson, Hong Kong’s WTO ambassador, told a meeting here of senior trade officials from more than 100 nations attending the WTO’s ruling general council.
Harbinson, who was fully supported by Pakistan, said that WTO member nations should know more about the functioning of the TMB — “especially the rationale behind its recommendations. Or in some cases, the reasons why no decision can be reached after long deliberations.”
Failure to outline the reasons “has serious implications for trade, especially where restraint measures not endorsed by the TMB are for unclear reasons permitted to continue,” he said.
One senior western official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the deliberations of the TMB as “a black box.” Officials from both rich and poor nations complain that the TMB does not even circulate the agenda for its proceedings.
Harbinson said that although textiles and clothing have now been brought into the global trade system, a number of nations carry the view that the sector is still not subject to WTO general principles. He said this has been seen not only in the issue of transparency but also in the applicability of draft rules of conduct to the TMB.
— Fairchild News Service

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