Let’s Talk Schedules

Exporters need reliable information about how their goods and services will be treated at the border. They want to know if they will have to pay tariffs and how high they are. This vital information is listed in the “schedules of concessions” of WTO members.

Roy Santana, Counsellor at the WTO Market Access Division, and Roberta Lascari, Economic Affairs Officer at the WTO, take advantage of a visit to a chocolate factory to talk — in the sweetest possible terms — about how schedules make trade more predictable, smooth and transparent.

If you want to go deeper on the topic of schedules of concessions, here are a few
additional explanations.

WTO schedules form the backbone of the multilateral trading system. They are an important WTO tool to ensure transparency, stability and predictability of world trade.

Schedules are the result of negotiations among WTO members. Most schedules were established during the Uruguay Round in 1994; others have resulted from accessions to the WTO. They reflect commitments and obligations of a WTO member toward the other members.
Schedules comprise maximum tariffs that can be applied by a member for a particular product. They also stipulate other non-tariff concessions.

Every WTO member has to have one schedule on goods and one schedule on services.
There are currently approximately 130 goods schedules even though there are more than 160 WTO members. The European Union has a single schedule for all its member states.

Goods schedules constantly change due to modifications and rectifications. So far, there have been more than 600 changes. The rules for modifying and rectifying a schedule, the so-called “1980 Procedures”, are straightforward: a member submits the planned update to all WTO members who have three months to review the proposed changes. In the absence of any objections, the Director-General “certifies” the change. More than 97% of such procedures have been successfully concluded.

More about chocolate

The production of chocolate is a truly global affair: cocao beans are mainly sourced from growers in Africa, the Americas and Asia. The beans are exported to different countries around the world for processing (roasting, grounding and conching/mixing) and made into bars and other confectionery. The chocolate is consumed in the chocolate-producing countries and also exported.

Even though many of us have our own ideas about where the best chocolate comes from, we are not suggesting that any specific country makes the best chocolate in the world. Therefore, we are not in a position to offer you a version of the video with a definitive answer. But you can share your opinion!

Special thanks to …

our experts in this video:
• Roy Santana, Counsellor in the WTO Market Access Division
• Roberta Lascari, Economic Affairs Officer in the Market Access Division
to our hosts:

• Chocolats et Cacaos Favarger in Geneva for inviting us to their factory in Versoix-Switzerland

and to you. This video was produced by the WTO’s audio-visual unit for information purposes, and for dissemination as widely as possible. Please share and recommend this video and others in this series from our social networks, or download it from this page.

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