Friday, October 2, 2015

A Summary of the Final Act of the Uruguay Round


Introduction
“The Final Act Embodying the Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations”, signed by ministers in Marrakesh on 15 April 1994 is 550 pages long and contains legal texts which spell out the results of the negotiations since the Round was launched in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in September 1986. In addition to the texts of the agreements, the Final Act also contains texts of Ministerial Decisions and Declarations which further clarify certain provisions of some of the agreements.
The Final Act covers all the negotiating areas cited in the Punta del Este Declaration with two important exceptions. The first is the results of the “market access negotiations” in which individual countries have made binding commitments to reduce or eliminate specific tariffs and non-tariff barriers to merchandise trade. These concessions are recorded in national schedules that form an integral part of the Final Act. The second is the “initial commitments” on liberalization of trade in services. These commitments on liberalization are also recorded in national schedules.
The agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO) calls for a single institutional framework encompassing the GATT, as modified by the Uruguay Round, all agreements and arrangements concluded under its auspices and the complete results of the Uruguay Round. Its structure is headed by a Ministerial Conference meeting at least once every two years. A General Council oversees the operation of the agreement and ministerial decisions on a regular basis. This General Council acts as a Dispute Settlement Body and a Trade Policy Review Mechanism, which concern themselves with the full range of trade issues covered by the WTO, and has also established subsidiary bodies such as a Goods Council, a Services Council and a TRIPs Council. The WTO framework ensures a “single undertaking approach” to the results of the Uruguay Round — thus, membership in the WTO entails accepting all the results of the Round without exception.
Texts on the interpretation of the following GATT articles are included in the Final Act:
Article II — Schedules of Concessions. Agreement to record in national schedules “other duties or charges” levied in addition to the recorded tariff and to bind them at the levels prevailing at the date established in the Uruguay Round Protocol.
Understanding on the Interpretation of Article XVII — State-trading Enterprises. Agreement increasing surveillance of their activities through stronger notification and review procedures.
Understanding on the Interpretation of Articles XII and XVIII:B
Balance-of-payments provisions. Agreement that contracting parties imposing restrictions for balance-of-payments purposes should do so in the least trade-disruptive manner and should favour price-based measures, like import surcharges and import deposits, rather than quantitative restrictions. Agreement also on procedures for consultations by the GATT Balance-of-Payments Committee as well as for notification of BOP measures.
Understanding on the Interpretation of Article XXIV — Customs Unions and Free-Trade Areas. Agreement clarifying and reinforcing the criteria and procedures for the review of new or enlarged customs unions or free-trade areas and for the evaluation of their effects on third parties. The agreement also clarifies the procedure to be followed for achieving any necessary compensatory adjustment in the event of contracting parties forming a customs union seeking to increase a bound tariff. The obligations of contracting parties in regard to measures taken by regional or local governments or authorities within their territories are also clarified.
Understanding on the Interpretation of Article XXV — Waivers. Agreement of new procedures for the granting of waivers from GATT disciplines, to specify termination dates for any waivers to be granted in the future, and to fix expiry dates for existing waivers. The main provisions concerning the granting of waivers are, however, contained in the Agreement on the WTO.
Understanding on the Interpretation of Article XXVIII — Modification of GATT Schedules. Agreement on new procedures for the negotiation of compensation when tariff bindings are modified or withdrawn, including the creation of a new negotiating right for the country for which the product in question accounts for the highest proportion of its exports. This is intended to increase the ability of smaller and developing countries to participate in negotiations.

Understanding on the Interpretation of Article XXXV — Non-application of the General Agreement. Agreement to allow a contracting party or a newly acceding country to invoke GATT’s non-application provisions vis-à-vis the other party after having entered into tariff negotiations with each other. The WTO Agreement foresees that any invocation of the non-application provisions under that Agreement must extend to all the multilateral agreements.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bangladesh’s IT/ITES industry Brief

This component will increase the competitiveness of Bangladesh’s IT/ITES industry by increasing the quantity and quality of skills, awareness and perception of the country, and support development of IT/ITES-specific infrastructure.

1.1       Top-up IT Training of Science Graduates for IT Services Segment: Provide software developer conversion training of six to nine months for 10,000 non-computer science graduates from universities and colleges. In addition the faculty will be trained and the trainees will be certified in partnership with leading universities and IT/ITES players to ensure quality.

1.2       Foundational Skills for ITES Segment: Provide training for 20,000 trainees in language, customer service, cultural sensitization, and PC/keyboarding; in order for these trainees to have sufficient basic skills to be ITES employable. An anchor institution will be identified to partner with international ITES players to provide the training. In addition,this sub-component will provide training grants to ITES companies that hire and train a minimum number of employees, for a minimum period of time.The program will support the GOB’s existing National ICT Internship Program, and its design and operations will be based on successful global experiences like in South Africa.

1.3       Middle Management Training: Support a local leading academic institution in partnering with overseas institutions to provide IT/ITES focused supervisory/middle management training programs. Such programs already exist in India and Philippines; hence this sub-component will support tie-ups with these proven institutions.

1.4       Institutional Capacity Building for BCC and Local Industry: This sub-component will build BCC’s capacity as an anchor institution for IT/ITES industry development. It will set up an IT/ITES unit in BCC comprising of BCC and project staff. In addition, it will assist BCC to develop the industry development strategy and roadmap in partnership with industry stakeholders, and set up an international advisory body to guide BCC’s efforts. In addition will also build the capacity of local industry by setting up a forum to facilitate dialogue and promote collaboration between the various industry associations. It will also support local companies in adopting globally accepted certifications for IT/ITES as such certifications are required for certain sub-segments of work, and contribute significantly to the perception of a country’s readiness for IT/ITES business.

1.5       Industry Promotion: Provide industry promotion support to enable Bangladesh to overcome the challenge of low awareness and poor perception of Bangladesh as an IT/ITES destination. Hence, it will develop an industry promotion plan for the country; and provide business development assistance in the form of contact databases, outreach programs to CEO-level clients, and support to high-level industry champions within the government for external client engagements. In addition it will support industry promotion actions such as developing promotional tools and materials, and place the country into globally recognized IT/ITES ranking indices.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

HRD Grants through Internship Program



HRD Grants through Internship Program
For piloting these grants, initially 900 interns will be provided in company. Among them 300 will be provided in ITS Company, 300 for ITES Company and another 300 management level interns will be provided equally in ITS & ITES Companies. After evaluating the performance both of the interns and the companies, next 3100 interns will be provided at same ratio.

The intern’s eligibility criteria on 3 sectors are:
i)                    ITS: Science Graduate ( at least have science in SSC/HSC level)
ii)                  ITES: From HSC to Graduate according to the particular ITES/BPO segment’s job requirements
iii)                Sales, marketing, HR management & Accounting(i.e. Management): Business Graduate


Branding & Communication:
As this internship is the way of the Fast Track Future Leader for IT/ITES industry in Bangladesh, so the branding of the program is very essential. To attract IT/ITES companies and young bright students from all corners of the country it is necessary to use all communication media to advertise the program. The advertisements will be published in more than two national widely circulated daily newspapers, on Government Websites and in other communication media as required. Also through partnership with different organizations/institutions the awareness will be carried on. The partnerships will be developed to ensure the involvement of different organizations and creating a positive impression so that the people get encouraged to apply with a prestigious sense. LICT Project will also arrange road shows / job fairs / workshops / seminars to promote the concept of Fast Track Future Leader for IT/ITES industry in Bangladesh.

Selection:
Applications will be accepted only through the online application system. Complying with all stated instructions/requirements it will be accepted for evaluation. 
For Interns: The LICT Project will receive all applications and after recording receipt the application will be screened for administrative check. Administrative checking will be based on different eligibility criteria of three sectors. Once the applications pass the administrative check they will be notified to sit for an online screening exam. After passing the screening exam the applicants will be ranked based on score. After the ranking is done the evaluators of TEP will hold a meeting for discussing and finalizing the selection. The number of selected applicants will depend on the demands of the company. If deemed necessary the TEP and LICT Project can call for an interview and review the scores. After the meeting the recommended personnel will be placed to EC for final approval.
For Companies: The LICT Project will receive sector-wise demand of manpower from the companies. The Companies will be screened for administrative check. Administrative checking will be based on their career path and pay scale. On the basis of these two criteria, the companies will be ranked. After the ranking is done the evaluators of TEP will hold a meeting for discussing and finalizing the company selection. The number of selected companies will depend on the availability of the project grants. If deemed necessary the TEP and LICT Project can call any company for interactions. After the meeting the recommended Company will be placed to EC for final approval.

Tracking:
The project will track both the companies and the interns. An online tracking system will be established where the updated revenue growth of the company, company’s outcome, intern’s on job training performance, intern’s career path will be provided by the company & the intern.

Monday, October 7, 2013

HRD Grants Criteria



HRD Grants Criteria:
1. Company will select interns for ITS 1500 & for ITES-BPO 2500.
2. Each of the interns will be paid BDT 9000 Tk/month for 6 months long.
3. The company will sign a MoU with LICT to continue the intern upto at least 2 years.
4. The intern will sign a bond with company to serve at least 2 years after completion of his/her internship.
5. The progress of company and the intern will be followed up by the LICT through a database.
6. Both of them are liable to update the database.
7. Risky new Technology incentives will be provided as BDT 10000 Tk/intern
8. The company will be provided infrastructure support as follows (one Time):
            Up to 5 interns: 100000 Tk (lump sum)
            Up to 10 interns: 210000 Tk (lump sum)
            Up to 20 interns: 420000 Tk (lump sum)
9. Qualifications for ITS interns will be science graduate(at least Science in SSC/HSC level)
10. For ITES interns the educational qualification may be from HSC to Graduate as per their position/working level required.
11. The monthly grant money will be deposited directly to the intern’s bank account.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Leveraging ICT Project of Bangladesh



The Project Development Objectives (PDOs) of the Leveraging ICT for Growth, Employment and Governance (LICT) Project are to: (i) Catalyse the growth of Bangladesh’s IT/ITES industry for employment creation and export diversification; and (ii) Establish basic e-Government foundations to support public sector modernization.
The Project Beneficiaries for IT/ITES:  The direct beneficiaries are 30,000 Bangladeshi youth (including an estimated 9,000 young women) who will benefit by gaining marketable and globally recognized IT/ITES skills, increased incomes due to skills upgrading, and enhanced employment opportunities in a growing IT industry. The local IT/ITES companies will also benefit from significantly increased business opportunities from the projected increase in industry revenue of over USD 200 million, support from BCC as the anchor institution for IT/ITES industry development, and improved international perception of their IT/ITES capabilities.
The Project Beneficiaries for e-Government: The direct beneficiaries are all the GOB’s ministries and agencies, who will benefit directly from higher efficiency and effectiveness, and reduced risks in their use of IT due to the availability of shared technology infrastructure for their systems and services. In addition they will be able to increase benefits from the use of ICT for their operations and services due to increased skills of support personnel both internally, and from MOICT/BCC. Bangladeshi citizens and businesses will also benefit from improved reliability of government services and increased security of their personal information.
This manual starts with the IT/ITES Industry Development Component (Component 1) of the LICT Project. It describes the five major activities of Component 1 of the LICT Project and mentions the overall goals of Human Resources Development (HRD) for the IT/ITES companies in Bangladesh.
Then the manual describes the operational processes of the Human Resources Development and Grants Management (HRDGM) committee or the Executive Committee (EC) of the LICT Project, chaired by the MICT Secretary, to undertake the tasks required to support the IT/ITES Industry Advisory Board (ITIAB), in advising the HRDGM.
The current version of this Operation Manual is still work in progress, so there might be unintentional inconsistencies due to lack of clear understanding of the DPP of the LICT. This Operation Manual will be a living document with changes happening as the project progresses taking inputs and feedback from all the major stakeholders of this LICT Project. Continuous active involvement and guidance from the ITS and ITES Industry sectors of Bangladesh will be one of the most important Critical Success Factors (CSF) of the Component 1 of the LICT project in general, and for this Operation Manual in particular.

Eligibility Criteria
This component will increase the competitiveness of Bangladesh’s IT/ITES industry by increasing the quantity and quality of skills, awareness and perception of the country, and support development of IT/ITES-specific infrastructure.
1.1          Top-up IT Training of Science Graduates for IT Services Segment: Provide software developer conversion training of six to nine months for 10,000 non-computer science graduates from universities and colleges. In addition the faculty will be trained and the trainees will be certified in partnership with leading universities and IT/ITES players to ensure quality.
1.2          Foundational Skills for ITES Segment: Provide training for 20,000 trainees in language, customer service, cultural sensitization, and PC/keyboarding; in order for these trainees to have sufficient basic skills to be ITES employable. An anchor institution will be identified to partner with international ITES players to provide the training. In addition, this sub-component will provide training grants to ITES companies that hire and train a minimum number of employees, for a minimum period of time. The program will support the GOB’s existing National ICT Internship Program, and its design and operations will be based on successful global experiences like in South Africa.
1.3          Middle Management Training: Support a local leading academic institution in partnering with overseas institutions to provide IT/ITES focused supervisory/middle management training programs. Such programs already exist in India and Philippines; hence this sub-component will support tie-ups with these proven institutions.
1.4          Institutional Capacity Building for BCC and Local Industry: This sub-component will build BCC’s capacity as an anchor institution for IT/ITES industry development. It will set up an IT/ITES unit in BCC comprising of BCC and project staff. In addition, it will assist BCC to develop the industry development strategy and roadmap in partnership with industry stakeholders, and set up an international advisory body to guide BCC’s efforts. In addition will also build the capacity of local industry by setting up a forum to facilitate dialogue and promote collaboration between the various industry associations. It will also support local companies in adopting globally accepted certifications for IT/ITES as such certifications are required for certain sub-segments of work, and contribute significantly to the perception of a country’s readiness for IT/ITES business.
1.5          Industry Promotion: Provide industry promotion support to enable Bangladesh to overcome the challenge of low awareness and poor perception of Bangladesh as an IT/ITES destination. Hence, it will develop an industry promotion plan for the country; and provide business development assistance in the form of contact databases, outreach programs to CEO-level clients, and support to high-level industry champions within the government for external client engagements. In addition it will support industry promotion actions such as developing promotional tools and materials, and place the country into globally recognized IT/ITES ranking indices.
The key objectives for supporting the Human Resources Development and Grants are:
(a)    Provide contributory partial funding to create World class Human Resources (both for production and management) and to promote the company and country globally  for better employment and export growth, and
(b)   Enhance capacity of the entrepreneurs and middle management of the SMME IT/ITES companies to compete in the global marketplace.
The Human Resources Development Support and Grants are open for all ITS and ITES companies from the private sector with particular focus in the export market, greater fresh graduates and women employment and innovation in the business and work processes.
The Human Resources Development and Grants Management for IT/ITES Companies (HRDGM) will be managed by an Executive Committee (EC). A part of the LICT Project Steering Committee (PSC) consisting of representatives from BASIS, BCS, ISPAB, BACCO, BCC, and World Bank chaired by the MICT Secretary and a part of the LICT Project Coordination Unit (PCU) comprising the PD and component leads will act as the executive committee (EC) for IT/ITES companies’ Human Resources Development and Grants Management (HRDGM). Details of the members are attached in the Annex. The EC will handle disbursements and contributions and oversee the operations of the HRDGM. IT/ITES Industry Advisory Board (ITIAB) consisting of prominent national and international persons will be established to guide the EC so that multidimensional perspectives can be incorporated.
A Technical Experts Panel (TEP) will review and approve project proposals based on pre-established criteria and assess performance of the funded initiatives. The Programme will follow this manual to manage Grants under this mechanism to detail out selection, disbursement, M&E (Monitoring and Evaluation) and management aspects of the Grants.