TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Mar18/17)
23 March 2018
Third World Network

Many oppose changes to DSU, pluri negotiations at WTO
Published in SUNS #8646 dated 21 March 2018

New Delhi, 20 Mar (D. Ravi Kanth) - The ministerial meeting hosted here by India saw strong opposition from many members against any changes to the current system of dispute settlement at the WTO, where rulings by the Appellate Body are final and binding.

The meeting also heard strong opposition from key nations against plurilateral negotiations on several new issues, such as e-commerce, investment facilitation, disciplines on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and gender issues that sponsors had mooted at Buenos Aires after the collapse of the eleventh ministerial conference (MC11) in failure, without any agreement on the way forward on the negotiations on the Doha Work Programme.

At a meeting Monday with WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, who had called on him for the first time, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed sharp concern over the continued threats posed to the effective functioning of the Dispute Settlement Body and the negotiating pillar of the World Trade Organization and cautioned, "might is right should not become the rule in global trade."

Separately, in an interview to SUNS on the sidelines of the ministerial, the Indonesian trade minister, Enggartiasto Lukita, on Tuesday (20 March) said categorically that his country will not participate in any plurilateral initiatives being launched by a group of countries on electronic commerce, investment facilitation, and disciplines for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

In another interview, South African Trade Minister Rob Davies told SUNS that the Delhi meeting witnessed intense "clash of paradigms" on the way forward at the WTO and in the multilateral trading system, and many countries fiercely opposed any departure from the current system of judicial rulings issued by the Appellate Body to "negotiated outcomes", as suggested by some members.