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Statement by Ambassador Punke at the WTO Trade Policy Review of The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Statement by Ambassador Michael Punke for the United States at the WTO Trade Policy Review of The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Geneva, Switzerland
October 25, 2016

*For the Record*

Thank you, Madame Chair.  The United States welcomes the delegation from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  

We thank the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the helpful background report it submitted for this review, and look forward to a constructive exchange of information regarding the DRC’s trade policies and practices.  We also thank the Secretariat for its comprehensive report.  It is our hope that this review will serve to recognize and reinforce the trade policy advances that the DRC has made, as well as to identify areas in which further attention and action are required.

We appreciate the particular circumstances affecting the DRC’s trade policy environment, including the vastness of the country, its status as a least developed country, and the enormous post-conflict development challenges it faces.  We recognize that more can be done to help diversify the economy.  Much of the DRC’s growth in recent years can be attributed to rapid expansion in the country’s mining sector, which accounts for about 85 percent of export revenues.  In spite of the huge potential for growth in the agriculture sector, it remains underdeveloped; the manufacturing sector is in its infancy. 

We also recognize that the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an original Member of the WTO, has demonstrated a commitment to open markets, and to implementing structural reforms that have enabled the country to begin to recover from the economic stagnation brought on by years of armed conflict and civil strife.  However, the Secretariat’s report notes that there has been no significant change in the regulatory environment for investment since the last TPR in 2010.  We would especially urge the DRC to ratify and accept the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement as soon as possible.  This would send a positive signal to potential investors.

Mr. Chairman, the United States has submitted a number of questions seeking clarification and elaboration on some of the points made in both the Government and Secretariat reports and we look forward to reviewing the government’s responses. 

To conclude, the United States stands ready to work with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and appreciates the opportunity to participate in this review of Congolese trade policy.  We look forward to our dialogue with the government, both within the WTO and on a bilateral basis.

Thank you, and we wish you a successful Trade Policy Review.