ARISE PLUS MYANMAR
TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR A NATIONAL CONSULTANT (NC) FOR THE WTO TRADE POLICY REVIEW OF MYANMAR
Title of assignment: Provision of support to the WTO Trade Policy Review of Myanmar
Duty Station: Myanmar
ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations (UN). It is the only multilateral agency fully dedicated to supporting the internationalization of SMEs. ITC’s mission is to foster inclusive and sustainable growth and development through trade and international business development. ITC Headquarters is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
ITC projects and programmes contribute to the global efforts to achieve UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the Aid for Trade agenda.
ITC is the implementing agency for the Arise Plus Myanmar project funded by the European Union (EU). The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) is the focal point for the project in Myanmar.
Under the Output 3: Trade policy formulation and implementation, Sub Output 3.3: Increase capacity building of trade institutions, the Department of Trade (DoT) within the MOC has requested ITC to hire one International Expert and one National Consultant to support Myanmar’s Trade Policy Review (TPR) at the WTO (activity 3.3.2).
Adopted by the GATT Council on 12 April 1989 and subsequently placed on a permanent footing as per the Annex 3 of the Marrakesh Agreement signed on 15 April 1994, the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) was established with the aim of contributing to improved adherence by all Members to rules, disciplines and commitments made under the multilateral trade agreements and, where applicable, the plurilateral trade agreements, and hence to the smoother functioning of the multilateral trading system. TPRM is a system for conducting periodic reviews on trade policies and measures of the Members at the Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB), based on two reports, one produced by the member country under review, and one produced by the Secretariat.
While taking into account the countries’ wider economic and developmental needs, their policies and objectives, and the external economic environment that they face, the TPR’s main focus is on achieving greater transparency in, and understanding of, their trade policies and practices. Based on the two reports, the reviews are conducted through submitting/answering questionnaires and discussions at TPRB meetings, through which Members discuss not matters related to the consistency with the WTO agreements, but also other relevant issues such as inward direct investment, competition policy, the energy sector, etc.
Some 30 years after its establishment, it is widely recognised that the TPRM has contributed enormously to the transparency of trade policies and practices of members through its process of regular reviews and monitoring, which has made it to be considered as a vital tool for maintaining trust between WTO members, and for the predictability and stability of global trade. As a forum where trade policies can be discussed, information sought and concerns expressed, based on an objective, independent evaluation of the trade and economic situation of individual members, the TPRM has also contributed to improve the quality of public and intergovernmental debate on trade issues. Not only it provides a means of determining whether Members are abiding by the commitments they made in the WTO, it also allows them to measure the extent to which they utilize the policy space permitted within the terms of the WTO agreements and their schedules.
More particularly for least developed countries (LDCs), TPRs are particularly valuable in providing them with an opportunity to undertake a comprehensive analysis of their trade policies from the point of view of their development objectives. Through such as an exercise with a wide coverage of the Member’s policies reviewed, LDCs are often able to identify shortcomings in policy, as well as to strengthen their inter-agency coordination on trade-related policies and practices. By enhancing their understanding of the WTO agreements and related matters, the TPRs also foster Members’ compliance and integration in the multilateral trading system. Additionally, the reviews play an important role in helping LDCs identify trade-related technical assistance (TRTA) needs, including based on the relevant elements provided in the reports, as well as through the follow-up workshops the WTO offers LDCs to organize in countries after the TPRB meeting, which are aimed at further discussing with national stakeholders the results of the TPR and the need to undertake appropriate trade policy and related reforms, but also at identifying further TRTA and capacity-building needs.
While, as stated in TPRB’s 2008 report on its Third Appraisal of the TPRM (WT/TPR/229), Members are free to define the structure and coverage of their own reports, an important guideline provided by TPRB’s Rules of Procedure is that the Government Reports shall be in the form of policy statements, whose form and length is also to be determined by the Member under review. In addition to providing an analysis of the trade policies and practices in relation to the rules, disciplines and commitments the Member has made under the multilateral trade agreements and, where applicable, the plurilateral trade agreements, the Government Report must follow a rather forward-looking approach by focusing on the trade and related policy measures and reforms which are being developed and will be undertaken in the forthcoming future. As part of the conclusions of the Sixth Appraisal of the TPRM conducted in 2017 (WT/MIN(17)/9), the WTO Members recommended that the Government Reports of LDCs should include a new section highlighting issues that are considered to be of particular interest to LDC Members, including TRTA and aid-for-trade needs and priorities, as identified by the Member concerned and the Secretariat.
Myanmar, as a founding WTO Member that already went through the TPR process in 2014, the three main outcomes of which were the Government Report, the Secretariat Report and the minutes of the TRPB meeting including the concluding remarks by the Chairperson. Myanmar is now preparing for its second WTO Trade Policy Review, with a TRPB meeting scheduled to be held on 12-14 October 2020.
To assist Myanmar throughout this process, ITC will hire a National Consultant, to work alongside an ITC-hired International Expert, to support MOC by supporting the implementation of awareness-raising activities related to the TPR process and the production of the Government Report, including through assisting in the collection and review of all relevant trade and other related legislation, laws, regulations, policies, practices, and reforms to be reviewed as part of the TPR process. As the recommended timeframe for the preparation to the TPR is approximately 15 months, the mission of the International Expert in supporting Myanmar from the beginning of this process, is expected to start in October 2019, hence the contract for the National Consultant will be aligned to these dates.