Dodwell in CTI Meetings at Singapore - Post 2

March 31, 2012

Friday’s Market Access Group discussion seemed a rather flaccid affair. There was clearly great enthusiasm for the two workshops of the previous day – one driven by Caterpillar on “Remanufactured Goods”, and the second on updating the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which was originally drafted in 1995 – but it proved hard to sustain the animation into the full MAG meeting. On “Reman”, it is perplexing to hear the same demands today that were heard in Washington a year ago for clearer definitions of what we mean by a “remanufactured good”. Are so many people really so obtuse that after at least three comprehensive debates on the issue, they still don’t understand, or are some quiet political games being played? A visit to Caterpillar’s massive and impressive regional remanufacturing centre in Singapore clearly “wowed” every participant, and one can only hope this helped to move the discussion forward towards some form of concrete conclusion.

On the Information Technology Agreement, updating is clearly urgent: as the MAG chair pointly noted: “Does anyone in the room today own a phone made in 1995?” Clearly technologies have moved so far since then that comprehensive updating is needed – and it needs to be open-ended so that as far as possible it enables regulators to accommodate the many thousands of innovations to come in the IT area. But this will take rolled-up sleeves at another place at another time. At least in-principle strong support was secured.

Beyond that, much was inconclusive – cooperation with the World Customs Organisation; plans for another joint meeting next year between MAG and the Group on Services; simplification of documents and procedures. Needlesstosay, by the end of the day, the skies had closed and heavy rains had come. Singapore in the middle of a tropical storm held its own fascinations – better seen from inside, than on the open street.

* Read Dodwell's blog posts from CTI Meetings at Singapore


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