TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Dec17/24)
14 December 2017
Third World Network

With US intransigent, MC11 may end with Chair statement
Published in SUNS #8596 dated 14 December 2017

Buenos Aires, 13 Dec (D. Ravi Kanth) - South Africa and India, supported by a large majority of countries, waged a grim battle on Wednesday with the United States for including the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) in the Buenos Aires Ministerial Declaration, several trade ministers and envoys told the SUNS.

The United States persisted with its intransigent positions saying there can't be any mention of "Doha" in the declaration.

The US said that the declaration must remain a brief statement to continue work on the institutional and other reforms, trade ministers and envoys told SUNS.

During a heads of delegations (HoD) meeting convened by the chairperson for the Buenos Aires ministerial meeting, Ms Susana Malcorra, for finalizing the ministerial declaration, the two sides remained locked up in a battle over what the ministerial declaration should contain.

South Africa and India along with a majority of countries insisted that the ministerial declaration must include all the unresolved DDA issues in the work program so as to ensure that members continue work during the next two years.

China also supported South Africa and India that the DDA must remain part of the ministerial declaration, China's trade envoy Ambassador Xiangchen Zhang told SUNS.

But the US stuck to its intransigent position that Doha can't be part of the Buenos Aires ministerial declaration.

The US said that it wants a brief ministerial declaration for addressing the institutional issues, particularly on transparency and notification requirements and reforms in the dispute resolution mechanism.

The US is supported by 44 countries who sought to erase the Doha work program and DDA from the ministerial declaration.

The 44 countries including Argentina, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote D'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hong Kong (China), Iceland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Korea, Liberia, Singapore and several others, emphasized the essential role for the WTO to continue delivering meaningful outcomes.

They also supported the US on issues concerning "WTO's trade monitoring work contributes to the effective functioning of the multilateral trading system, by enhancing transparency of trade policies and practices of Members."

The 44 countries, however, differed with the US on one issue, namely, on how to reform the DSU (Dispute Settlement Understanding).

"We note that the WTO's Dispute Settlement Understanding has established and continues to offer an essential means for the settlement of disputes among Members that is unique in international agreements."

"We underline the importance of ensuring its effective functioning. In this regard, we call for all vacancies on the Appellate Body to be filled without delay."

They also insisted on a productive negotiating function for the WTO "to continue delivering meaningful outcomes for Members of all sizes and at all levels of development. In this regard, we note with concern the lack of progress in our negotiations since the WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi."

Effectively, against the backdrop of an impasse among members on the ministerial declaration, the chairperson Ms Malcorra will issue a chair's statement which might not be the best guarantor for ensuring the continuation of work on the Doha issues, said another ambassador, who asked not to be quoted.