TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jun18/05)
4 June 2018
Third World Network

South stresses development as central priority for resilience in WTO
Published in SUNS #8693 dated 4 June 2018

Paris, 1 Jun (D. Ravi Kanth) - Major developing countries - China, India, and South Africa - said on Thursday that the development dimension in the global trading system, particularly at the WTO, remains their central priority for building resilience, trade ministers told SUNS.

Speaking at an informal trade ministerial summit on the margins of the annual OECD ministerial meeting, China said the special and differential flexibilities (S&DT) is essential for its development, and it will oppose attempts to dilute S&DT flexibilities.

The United States along with several other industrialized countries spoke about derogations by two-thirds of members from the WTO commitments due to S&DT flexibilities.

Trade, according to India's trade minister Suresh Prabhu, "must contribute to development."

Given the chequered background to India's economic development - impressive achievement in some sectors but compelling changes in many others, India has not been able to integrate into the global trading system like many other countries, India's trade minister said.

"Any endeavour at the WTO for reciprocal trade rules, which ignores the reality, will further deepen the divide and aggravate the disenchantment with globalization," the Indian commerce minister warned.

"Special and differential treatment provisions for all developing countries without exception, are an integral part of the WTO Agreement and this principle must be protected in all future agreements as well," the Indian commerce minister emphasized.

Without naming the US and other developed countries that are calling for "differentiation" to deny S&DT treatment to major developing countries, India said "approaches based on selection, such as the "case-by-case" approach to granting special and differential treatment to developing countries must be avoided."

On behalf of South Africa's trade minister Rob Davies, South Africa's trade envoy Ambassador Xavier Carim cautioned that the fourth cornerstone of the WTO - the special and differential treatment - is also under challenge.

"Recent proposals to narrow its scope, irrespective of objective difference s in levels of economic development between developed and developing countries will only compound our negotiating difficulties," South Africa said.

South Africa, which is coordinating the African Group, said "the core posit ions of the African Group are built on the developmental objectives embedded in the Doha mandate."

The African Group, according to South Africa, seeks "meaningful outcomes in agriculture, on domestic support, cotton, public stockholding, SSM [special safeguard mechanism] as well as fisheries subsidies."

But major industrialized countries - the US, the EU, Japan, and several others - said that differentiation among developing countries remains a top priority for providing special and differential flexibilities.