U.S. Statement at the WTO Trade Policy Review of Montenegro

Statement by Ambassador Dennis Shea,
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and Permanent Representative to U.S. Mission to the World Trade Organization

Geneva, April 11, 2018

Thank you, Chair.

I would like to join others in welcoming Director General Goran Šćepanović and his distinguished delegation for Montenegro’s first Trade Policy Review.

Montenegro has achieved many economic successes in recent years.  Perhaps most importantly, is its accession to the WTO in 2012, and since then it has made many significant contributions to the WTO. Montenegro is, simply put, an outstanding “citizen” of this organization.  Its active participation across our committee structures, the willingness of its Permanent Representative to chair one of our working groups, and the seriousness with which Montenegro responds to inquiries from the United States and other Members are examples of how this Member has shown its dedication to our common work.  Over this same time-period, Montenegro has become an accession candidate in negotiations with the European Union, another demonstration of its commitment to trade liberalization and regional integration.

Montenegro conducted its WTO accession with dedication and enthusiasm, and in particular, the United States commends Montenegro for additional undertakings in several plurilateral WTO agreements, including the Trade in Civil Aircraft Agreement, the Information Technology Agreement and most recently its accession to the revised Government Procurement Agreement.

Montenegro has also demonstrated leadership in trade facilitation. We recognize Montenegro’s early acceptance of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and its timely notifications.  We appreciated the inclusion of details regarding Montenegro’s National Committee for Trade Facilitation in its report, and we look forward to learning more about its Strategy on Trade Facilitation in the Trade Facilitation Committee as we work jointly with Montenegro to build that Committee.

We look forward to seeing Montenegro’s continued progress in reforming its business environment and reducing trade barriers. During the review period, Montenegro has implemented significant reforms in its trade policy regime, including promoting good regulatory practices, eliminating import quotas, reducing import licensing requirements and prohibitions, streamlining customs procedures, and reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers.

We would like to draw attention to the laudable efforts Montenegro has made to promote good regulatory practice, including the adoption and application of Regulatory Impact Assessments as well as the intriguing program referred to as “Guillotine Regulations” which we understand to be a very aptly named effort to eliminate and reduce bureaucracy and red tape. We also applaud similar efforts undertaken to build the capacity of the Montenegrin accreditation system and the expansion of conformity assessment bodies, which will improve investor and trader confidence in accessing Montenegro’s market.  We support Montenegro’s continuing structural reforms, and look forward to further advancements that support trade and economic growth.

Concerning intellectual property (IP) rights, Montenegro has taken a number of steps to align its IP law and regulations with the TRIPS Agreement. This is an important factor in further facilitating trade in IP-intensive goods and services.  We hope to obtain further updates and clarifications related to Montenegro’s amendments to and implementation of its copyright and industrial property laws.

Today’s Trade Policy Review plays an important role in encouraging the dialogue between Montenegro and other WTO Members on issues that, if successfully addressed, would lead to expanded trade and greater prosperity for Montenegro and its trading partners. During this review, we have posed a number of written questions aimed at facilitating a better understanding on issues related to Montenegro’s alignment of its tariffs with the EU; the standard-setting framework in relation to food; its intellectual property rights regime; and its investment policy and customs system.

We want to take this opportunity to thank Montenegro for its written responses to the questions we raised.  We are undertaking a comprehensive review of the responses in Washington.

We look forward to closer cooperation with Montenegro here at the WTO, and bilaterally.  We also wish to take a moment to acknowledge Montenegro’s Ambassador, Zorica Marić-Đorđević, for her close cooperation and collaboration with the United States, and for setting an incredibly high standard of hard work and dedication.

We also look forward to continuing to work with Montenegro and other Members to strengthen the global economy and the WTO.  We hope that our discussions today will help Montenegro expand upon the considerable progress it has already made in its trade regime.

Thank you.