The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) has issued a list of recommendations for the modernisation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in line with supporting free and fair trade and enabling the regional chemical industry’s growth.

In a new position paper, GPCA praised the WTO’s vital role in supporting trade in commodities and goods across the world. However, it highlighted that the organisation needs to do more to achieve multilateral commitments from its members on further trade liberalisation and emerging trade rules.

GPCA went on to recommend that the WTO, of which all GCC states are members, should take proactive steps towards its modernisation in several key areas, including: process (reform) and substance (negotiations); regulatory cooperation on chemical substances to prevent barriers to trade; trade agendas to support sustainability; improved transparency, and effective enforcement of commitments.

GPCA estimates that regional chemical export volume declined by 15-20 percent to 66-70 million tons in 2020, due to significant demand disruptions in chemical supply markets as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Off the back of increased demand and gradual economic recovery, regional chemical trade is expected to increase by up to 10 percent in terms of volume in 2021.

GPCA said: “The chemical industry in the region still faces key barriers to trade including costly tariffs, unclear rules of origin, discrepancies between national legislations, multiple and differing standards, limited protection of trade secrets as well as trade defence measures.

“To realise its potential and ensure its sustainable growth, the industry requires an enabling legal framework, and free access to global markets, which means the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers. No organisation is better placed than the WTO to act as conduit of free and fair trade and enable consistent and compliant trade practices between countries.”

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12th April 2021