In 2004 Mauritius, a small island state located thousands of kilometres from its major markets, was facing two major challenges: the probable erosion of preferential treatment for its main export product (sugar) and a serious disruption to its textile and apparel industry, as a result of the impending expiration of the global restraint system that encouraged producers to seek out locations that could benefit from marginal quota allocations. In addition to the likelihood of less favourable access for sugar in the European Communities (EC), the Mauritian sugar industry faced the prospect of stiff competition in the future from Brazil and new-to-market entrants benefiting from the EC’s ‘Everything but Arms’ (EBA) initiatives.
When the Malaysian Standards Industrial Research Institute Malaysia (SIRIM), an organization designated as a national enquiry point for technical barriers to trade (TBT) in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), informed local manufacturers that the Ministry of Social Welfare of Colombia had proposed a new requirement for the labelling of natural latex condoms, a local company voiced its objection against such a requirement. The Draft Decree from the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (CTBT), received by the WTO on 15 May 2003, stated that ‘each condom in the individual container shall bear at least the following information: manufacturer, trade name, sanitary register number, expiry date, batch number, the number of condoms contained, instructions for use of the condom, the statement that the condom is made of natural rubber latex that can cause irritation, instructions for the storage: “Store the condom in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight”’. The proposed regulation was to take effect from 15 August 2003.
Malawi is a land-locked country occupying the southern part of the Rift Valley in east Africa. It is bordered by Zambia to the west, Mozambique to the south and east and Tanzania to the north. In 2001, the estimated population in Malawi was 11 million (World Bank 2003). This relatively small sub-Saharan African country is one of the poorest in the world, with GDP per capita of US$163 in 2001 and over half of the poor population living in the rural area.
The WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) set up a transitional mechanism in 1995, with a view to phasing out quotas for trade in textiles and clothing by the end of 2004. Even though the total global imports of textiles and clothing will expand, competition is also likely to increase among many garment exporting countries around the world. It is expected that textile and garment companies in medium- to high-cost countries will reduce their manufacturing production. In contrast, those in low-cost countries with a strong competitive advantage will expand their production and export capacities to become preferred suppliers and to take advantage of liberalization. Lao textile and garment companies will be affected at different levels depending on their competitive capacities. In order to maintain its market shares or reduce losses, the garment industry needs to implement a product diversification strategy with the introduction of products in the medium to higher market segments and develop sufficient production inputs. Laos needs to develop modernized production facilities, better upstream industries (spinning and weaving) and well-trained workers to be prepared for trade liberalization. Support from the government is crucial, in particular on market access negotiations and trade facilitation. Nevertheless, a lack of capacity in terms of budget and expertise is the main constraint in the process.
Kenya was among the founding members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) when the Marrakesh Agreement was signed in Morocco on 15 April 1994. The notification process was completed by 31 December 1994, when accession to the WTO was completed. As a member, Kenya is signatory to all WTO agreements including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the Agreement on Agriculture (AOA), the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).