Procedures to strengthen the negotiating function of the WTO

General Council Meeting

December 9-11, 2019

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Statement by India

Procedures to strengthen the negotiating function of the WTO

We thank the United States for the revised proposal and their statement.

2. We would like to refer to the submission WT/GC/W/765 where we have dealt with some of these issues and underlined that S&DT is a treaty embedded right/entitlement for which we have paid, and it cannot be taken away from us.

3. The draft decision by the United States uses arbitrary parameters, many of them unrelated to development, to target certain Members. While some developing Members may have made progress, old gaps in the levels of development are far from being bridged, and in some areas have even widened. Further, new divides, especially in the digital and technological spheres, are becoming more pronounced.

4. In the case of a country like India,

  • which is home to about 35.6% of the global poor and 24% of global under-nourished;
  • which is ranked at 102nd among 117 countries in 2019 Global Hunger Index and 130th in the 2017 United Nations Human Development Index;
  • which has less than 36% of the population having access to internet
  • which has 81 times more farmers per hectare and less than 0.4% domestic support per farmer as compared to the United States;
  • which has per capita income of about USD 2500

cannot be placed in the same development category as the United States with a per capita GDP of more than USD 70000.

5. The draft decision by the United States recognizes that reserving flexibilities for those WTO Members with the greatest difficulty integrating into the multilateral trading system can open new export opportunities for such countries. However, what it fails to accept is that developed country Members, including the United States, need to consider foregoing flexibilities available to them under various existing Agreements and Decisions, including AMS and green-box subsidies, Special Safeguard Mechanism and flexibilities under the Nairobi Decision on Export Competition, which provides reverse S&D treatment, none of which are generally available to developing countries, and hurt developing country exports.

6. Depriving developing countries like India of their rightful policy space in future agreements, a policy space that has been enjoyed by developed Members in their process of structural transformation and economic growth, would be a gross violation of the basic tenets of equity and justice, and would strike at the very legitimacy of the rules-based system and delay the achievement of this SDGs. This would compound the wrong resulting from non-completion of the Doha Work Programme which sought to mainstream development in the multilateral trading system and make S&DT provisions of the Uruguay Round Agreements more precise, operational and enforceable.

7. We can agree with the premise that developing country Members, who consider themselves in a position to do so, may voluntarily decide to forgo the S&DT in current and future negotiations. However, a so called case by case approach, dependant on providing evidence of the need for S&DT, sector wise to start with, which will soon expand to requesting for and seeking S&DT, product by product or line by line, will be so burdensome and impractical as to make S&DT for developing countries and LDCs, a part of history of the WTO, and is, therefore, not acceptable.

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