By Uttam Kumar Deb
Many developed and developing countries have been offering special schemes to benefit least developed countries (LDCs) from trade through increased market access. However, effective utilization of market access opportunities by the LDCs may be constrained by the rules of origin (RoO) criteria and non-tariff measures (NTMs) applied by the preference-giving countries. This report deals with RoO applied and non-tariff barriers (NTBs) imposed by developed and developing countries for importing agricultural products from LDCs. The study considered two LDCs (Bangladesh and Cambodia), three developed countries (EU, USA and Japan) and two developing countries (India and Thailand). It has identified major agricultural exports of Bangladesh and Cambodia. The report has also summarized the RoO criteria applied for these agricultural export items of Bangladesh and Cambodia by EU under EBA, by Japan under its latest GSP Scheme of 2003 and by USA under its GSP scheme. In addition, it has summarized the RoO applicable for agricultural exports of Bangladesh in the Indian markets under the SAPTA and Bangkok Agreement. The study has also documented the RoO applied by Thailand for importing commodities from Bangladesh under Bangladesh-Thailand Bilateral Agreement and from Cambodia under AFTA. Various NTBs imposed by the developed and developing countries are also documented. The study revealed that agricultural export items of Bangladesh and Cambodia have been facing stringent rules of origin in the developed and developing country markets. Both developed and developing countries
more commonly use a number of NTBs. The study concludes that in order to serve the interests of LDCs in agricultural trade, developed and developing countries should ease preferential rules of origin as well as lower the extent of NTBs. On the other hand, LDCs would have to undertake a number of interventions in their domestic policies and engage more proactively at the WTO negotiations.
By Uttam Kumar Deb