TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (May17/06)
5 May 2017
Third World Network

US hurls "unparliamentary" language against India at WTO committee
Published in SUNS #8455 dated 4 May 2017

Geneva, 3 May (D. Ravi Kanth) -- The United States - which has failed to comply with several World Trade Organization rulings and has blocked several procedural proposals on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement and the accession of Iran - created an ugly scene at a meeting of the WTO Committee on Safeguards on 24 April, several participants told SUNS.

During the meeting, India had raised procedural concerns whether a proposal in a room document from Australia for enhanced transparency in the notification of safeguard actions in the annual report can be addressed with written responses.

India said New Delhi can consider an appropriate response to the Australian proposal, only after reviewing a written document.

In response, Australia said if India's objection is on procedural grounds, then, it would table a written proposal as a WTO document.

Under WTO procedures and practices, room documents are treated as "non-papers", and not as formal proposals.

The US official at the committee meeting, though not a sponsor of the Australian non-paper, however intervened, and went on an unusual rampage, using "un-parliamentary" language against India for the procedural concerns raised by it, participants told SUNS.

The US said it is a "little disappointed by Australia's response quite frankly."

"We found it to be a little bit too polite [and] we will take the mantle of not doing so," the US said, adding: "13 months, 56 weeks, 395 days, 9,480 hours, 568,800 minutes, that is how long India has been considering this proposal."

"But should we be surprised by this? This is who these people are. This is the way they behave. It is almost synonymous with their national identity to be obstructionist," the US delegate said.

"Any minor step that we want to take to improving transparency India opposes," the US maintained.

"How many of us in this room, in this Organization have said "we would like to, but India....", the US official continued.

India failed to provide "any reason, any legitimate reason whatsoever as to why it objects to this proposal and, if there is any legitimate reason, to provide any way that those concerns could be alleviated through a modification of this proposal."

"So, quite frankly, shame on you India, shame on you for what you've done over these last 13 months. It really is unacceptable," the US said.

The US went on to ask the rest of the delegations "we say if not now, when? When are you going to stand up to this? When are you going to object to India's behaviour? How many more atrocities does India have to commit on us Members, on the Secretariat, on the Chair, on the WTO. How many times do we need to be spit in our faces with this type of behaviour? Now is gut-check time."

"Do you, like the United States, stand up to India and say "enough" or do you side and condone India's behaviour? Again, 13 months, 56 weeks, 395 days, 9,480 hours, 568,800 minutes. If not this, what? If not now, when?"

India strongly objected to "the un-parliamentary language used by the Delegation of the United States."

Reminding members about the conduct of the US in other Committees, India cited the developments in the TRIPS Council in which the US has blocked simple issues such as "updating the factual briefs by the Secretariat since 2008 without giving any response."

India suggested that the US must look into the mirror and think about its own conduct.

The US, according to India, told the Working Group on Trade and Transfer of Technology that a room document submitted by India, the Philippines, and Pakistan for having a dedicated web page for the transfer of technology cannot be considered.

The Indian Ambassador Anjali Prasad protested severely over the use of such unparliamentary language by the US official at the Safeguards Committee, and took up the issue with the US.

In response, the US charge de affaires to WTO said its delegate was not authorized to make such a statement and regretted his statement, according to people familiar with the development. +