south-north development monitor - SUNS [Email Edition]

SUNS #4416
Friday, 16 April 1999


Trade: No DG named, WTO General Council remains suspended (Chakravarthi Raghavan, Geneva)

Trade: BOP, an S & D right in WTO without substance? (Chakravarthi Raghavan, Geneva)

Trade: US court challenges WTO ruling (IPS, Washington)

Trade: Zhu reminds Clinton who is boss (IPS, Washington)

United States: U.S. wage gap widens (IPS, Washington)

Excerpts from some articles:

Trade: No DG named, WTO General Council remains suspended

Geneva, 14 Apr (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- Unable to name a Director-General, in the face of an impasse created by the US and its supporters, the General Council of the World Trade

Organization, "suspended" its meeting Wednesday, with consultations to be resumed by the Chairman, after a week's recess when he is away from Geneva.

Both the election of a new director-general and a farewell speech from the incumbent, Renato Ruggiero, set for Wednesday's meeting have been postponed, until the Council meets on an unspecified date before 30 April, when Ruggiero demits office.

The ASEAN in a statement asserted that Supachai was the leading candidate, commanding 65% support from those who had expressed any preference, and this was double that for Moore. The ASEAN invited the Council Chair to say whether this was so, and put the election of Supachai as the D.G. to the membership, and invite those objecting to say so.

But this was not done, and after speeches from supporters of either candidate, the meeting was "suspended", with the Council chairman Ali Mchumo promising that he would come up with a consensus choice for election before 30 April. Also postponed was a proposal from the chair that Ruggiero be authorized to hold consultations and extend the term of one or more of his three deputies who otherwise also are to demit office on 30 April.

Trade: BOP, an S & D right in WTO without substance?

Geneva, 14 Apr (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- Article XVIII:B of GATT 1994 as a whole embodies the principle of Special and Differential (S & D) treatment on measures taken for BOP reasons, the WTO panel on the Indian BOP case has agreed, but has been to reflect this only in its suggestions for India being given a longer phase-out period than the normal 15-month time limit ordinarily set by arbitrators as "reasonable period" for implementation.

This may or may not help India, but the ruling appears to have some serious implications for developing countries in the run-up to the next Ministerial meeting and any negotiations that may ensue. The ruling, as some others before, suggests that S&D provisions (with various WTO bodies having to take decisions, and operating under the GATT consensus practices) can be frustrated through the dispute settlement system.

There are varying views of the way the Uruguay Round agreement on Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) was negotiated in the final stages of the Round by a few key delegations, and the agreements in Goods, Services and Intellectual Property, as well as the over-arching DSU were packaged into the WTO as annexes.

Both then and later, some of the negotiators, and some outsiders who got access to official files, have given their versions. But to those who observed the Geneva scene of those days, and talked to delegations, it was evident that the final shape was one cobbled together in a rush to meet deadlines -- without any adequate scrutiny of the legal texts to see whether they reflected what the negotiators had agreed upon.

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