Notification and Transparency Issues in the WTO and the US’ November 2018 Communication
Various WTO Members submitted a Communication to the WTO in November 2018 which, if accepted, would affect the implementation of Members’ transparency and notification obligations at the WTO. It would strengthen the already burdensome notification obligations and introduce new punitive administrative measures should obligations not be complied with. This paper provides information about WTO Members’ current notification obligations and their level of compliance; looks at the history of discussions on notifications, particularly in the Working Group on Notification Obligations and Procedures which took place in 1995 – 1996; and provides an analysis of the Communication. The analysis focuses on the extent to which the elements are consistent with or go beyond the current WTO disciplines. It concludes that non-compliance with notification obligations is real. However, rather than expanding obligations and introducing punitive measures, constructive and effective solutions should be based on nuancing of obligations in the context of a Special and Differential Treatment approach and through the use of incentives. It also acknowledges that countries with a chronic lack of capacities will continue to struggle with the WTO’s complex notification obligations and requirements until they attain higher levels of development and, thus, improved institutional capacities.
Why the US Proposals on Development will Affect all Developing Countries and Undermine WTO
US submitted two highly problematic proposals to the WTO in January and February 2019, undermining the place of Special and Differential Treatment (S&D) for developing countries at the WTO. In the first paper (WT/GC/757), US criticises the practice of self-declared development status by developing countries arguing that the North-South construct no longer makes sense due to “great development strides”. The second paper (WT/GC/764) – a proposed Decision for the General Council – provides a way to operationalise what was in the first paper. It gave criteria that would exclude 34 Members or 53.6 percent of global population from S&D treatment in “current and future WTO negotiations”. This fundamentally changes S&D from an unconditional right for all developing countries to a concession that may or may not be provided. Even for those developing countries that are not part of the 34 excluded Members, the US notes that in sector-specific negotiations, other Members could also be “ineligible for special and differential treatment.” This paper critiques the US approach on Special and Differential Treatment and concludes that these papers by the US cannot be the basis for any further discussions. All developing countries must be able to decide the pace of their adjustment to trade rules.
South Centre Quarterly Report, 1 July to 30 September 2018
This report summarizes the programmatic activities of the South Centre during the period 1 July to 30 September 2018. It is intended to provide information, organized by Program and themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the South Centre’s Work Program and publications and meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or to provide analytical support for international negotiations taking place in various fora. It also informs about external conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated.
The WTO’s Special and Differential Treatment Negotiations (Paragraph 44)
Paragraph 44 of the 2001 Doha Ministerial Declaration mandates the ‘strengthening’ of Special and Differential Treatment (S&D) provisions in the WTO Agreement, and making them ‘more precise, effective and operational’. This Note tracks the evolution of these negotiations from the start of the Doha Round in 2001 until the Nairobi Ministerial in December 2015. (more…)
The WTO has a 1998 Work Programme on E-commerce. This Work Programme provides for the discussion of trade-related issues relating to electronic commerce to take place in the relevant WTO bodies: the Council for Trade in Services; the Council for Trade in Goods; the Council for TRIPS; and the Committee for Trade and Development. The General Council was envisaged to play a review or oversight role. (more…)
The WTO’s Agriculture Domestic Supports Negotiations
The historical problems in agriculture continue today. Developed countries with the financial capacity continue to subsidise their farmers and export these agricultural products. This has also been enabled by the Uruguay Round through large AMS entitlements for mostly developed countries ($19 billion for US and now about $95 billion for EU27), as well as the Green Box (Annex 2 of the Agreement on Agriculture). (more…)
Special And Differential Treatment Under A Potential Trade Facilitation Agreement
Negotiations of a trade facilitation (TF) agreement under the World Trade Organization (WTO) were launched pursuant to the 2004 July Framework Package (referred to as the post-Cancun decision). (more…)
How Far Does The Trade Facilitation Negotiation text (Rev.16) Go Beyond The WCO Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC)?
This Note assesses the extent to which the Trade Facilitation negotiation text (Rev.16) goes beyond the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC). The backdrop to this Note is the erroneous view that the TF Agreement only differs slightly from the WCO RKC. (more…)