WTO: India frowns at US plan to penalise nations delaying sharing of trade info

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018

Big difference between wilful default and default due to constraints: India

A proposal made by the US to penalise countries that fail to share information about their trade regimes on time at the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been strongly opposed by developing countries, including India, China, and Bolivia. They have argued that a decision on these lines could hit poor countries the most.

“We must recognise the difference between wilful default and a default due to inherent constraints. In spite of their willingness to notify on time, developing countries may not be able to do so,” India’s representative pointed out at the WTO Committee on Trade in Goods (CTG) meeting recently.

The US introduced the proposal at the CTG meeting for WTO members to approve at the upcoming 11th Ministerial meet of the World Trade Organization in Buenos Aires in December.

Not a priority

“This is yet another attempt by the US to push an issue less urgent than the ones being negotiated for a long time, like discipline in public stockholding, on the negotiating agenda of the Ministerial meet. The proposal is unacceptable to India both because it goes against the interests of poorer countries and also because members should not try to introduce new issues at the last minute,” said a government official.

A key element of the US proposal includes administrative measures to withdraw certain privileges from WTO members who fail to provide a required notification two years after the submission deadline.

It also talks about extending the period for submitting notifications related to agriculture and additional information on fisheries subsidy programs that must be notified.

Some developed member-nations, too, questioned the US proposal. Norway said that it believed positive incentives may be more effective than punitive actions to achieve the improvements being sought.

New Zealand pointed out that people needed to make sure the incentives were right and that they did not end up reinforcing disengagement.

WTO members are hoping to come up with an agreement on a small package of issues, including a permanent solution for public stockholding.

Published on November 16, 2017

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