Statement as delivered by Ambassador Dennis Shea
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization
Geneva, April 10, 2019
Thank you Chair– congratulations on your new assignment, and thank you Ambassador Walker for your helpful overview. The United States extends a warm welcome to the delegation of Samoa, led by the Honorable Minister Purcell, particularly after their 40-hour trip to be here today.
During the review period, Samoa confronted challenges following Tropical Cyclone Evan in 2012, the closing of the country’s largest manufacturing plant in 2017, and Tropical Cyclone Gita in 2018. Despite these challenges, Samoa has succeeded in maintaining a positive growth trajectory. The United States commends the government of Samoa for the steps it has taken to strengthen the country’s economic resilience. Initiatives such as the Agriculture and Fisheries Cyclone Recovery Program and emphasis on developing the agricultural and tourism sectors as part of a broader structural reform agenda have helped Samoa to diversify its production base and revitalize exports.
The United States appreciates the efforts Samoa has made with regard to its WTO commitments. Following its accession to the WTO in 2012, Samoa became the first Pacific Islands member to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement and it is working to implement its WTO accession commitments. We would also like to commend Samoa for the initiative it has shown in the WTO by hosting the first Trade Policy Course for Pacific Island countries and by speaking on behalf of the Pacific Group during the 2017 Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.
There have been several positive developments within Samoa’s trade and investment regime during the review period; however, there are still areas where we believe Samoa could make further improvements. As noted in the Secretariat report, Samoa has outstanding notification obligations in areas such as export subsidies, import licensing procedures, and SPS/TBT measures. The United States encourages Samoa to continue working with the WTO Secretariat to meet its notification requirements.
The Secretariat Report states that the applied MFN rates of 20 tariff lines exceed their respective bound rates. We encourage Samoa to use this Trade Policy Review as an opportunity to describe any plans to bring these tariff lines into compliance with their respective bound rates. The United States would also appreciate further information on Samoa’s plans to implement a 20 percent excise tax on food items that exceed certain nutritional thresholds as is mentioned in the Secretariat Report, including clarity on how the tax will be applied with respect to both domestic and imported products.
The United States welcomes Samoa’s accession to the Madrid Protocol and the adoption of a National Intellectual Property Strategy. As noted in our questions, we also ask that the Government of Samoa provide more information on any potential new legislation related to traditional knowledge as well as plans to establish a collective management organization for copyright issues.
In closing, the United States commends Samoa for its actions in trade and investment reform and encourages Samoa to continue serving as a proactive member of the Pacific Group within the WTO. We wish the delegation of Samoa a productive dialogue during its review and look forward to further engagement opportunities in the future.