TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Dec17/18)
12 December 2017
Third World Network
South Africa for "multilateralism with inclusive development"
Published in SUNS #8594 dated 12 December 2017
Buenos Aires, 11 Dec (D. Ravi Kanth) - South Africa's trade minister
Rob Davies has issued a strong call for ensuring "multilateralism
with inclusive development" so as to address the global "discontents"
in the world.
"We need inclusive development" to address the growing "discontents"
in the world. "We need multilateral trading system with the continuation
of the Doha Development Agenda", Davies told SUNS in an interview
on 9 December.
Davies expressed doubts whether there will be a ministerial declaration
out of MC11. He said that there are fundamental differences "on
the relevance of multilateralism" and other issues concerning the
However, a Chair's concluding statement cannot be ruled out, Davies
Following his meeting with the Indian trade minister Suresh Prabhu,
Davies said South Africa and India shared common positions on several
The South African minister emphasized the importance of concluding an
agreement on the permanent solution for public stockholding programs
so as to enable all poor countries facing hunger and other problems
confronting poor farmers to be in a position to use the instrument.
"We can harvest the outcome on the permanent solution at Buenos
Aires," he said.
He insisted there should be no linkage with any outcome on the domestic
support, adding that South Africa does not support proposals that fail
to address meaningful outcomes on domestic support.
Davies said the African Group and the ACP (Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific)
group have circulated proposals on how to address the AMS and anti-concentration
in product-specific subsidies.
On fish subsidies, he said "it is hard to see how [to] finalize
the issue at Buenos Aires." Davies maintained that members have
reached consensus on prohibiting subsidies going for vessels contributing
to Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
"It is difficult to go beyond IUU" at this juncture, he said.
South Africa remains opposed to any outcome on export restrictions for
agricultural products as proposed by Singapore and several other countries.
"The proposal on export restrictions aims at ramping up administrative
requirements and we don't want additional trade rules," he said.
Commenting on electronic commerce, he said there has to be a "balancing
agreement" for foregoing revenue due to the existing moratorium
on customs duties for electronic transmissions.
"In our view there is no compelling argument as to why we have
to change the existing arrangement [based on the 1998 work program]",
the South African minister argued, maintaining that his country with
other African nations remain opposed to any change in the existing mandate.
"We are not supportive of investment facilitation", he said.
Investment facilitation is not a matter of international trade rules,
nor is the WTO a development body.
He said that there is no scope for disciplines on micro, small, and
medium enterprises when there are so many unresolved issues of the Doha
work program to be addressed.
As regards development and special and differential treatment, he said
"these issues are mandated and we cannot see these problems being
He saw no prospects for any changes in the domestic regulation for trade
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