Multilateral Trading System must promote Development and Inclusivity

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies attended the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Meeting of Developing Countries on 13-14 May 2019 in New Delhi, India.  The meeting was chaired by Mr Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Civil Aviation of India.

The meeting noted with concern the multiple challenges confronting the rules based multilateral trading system and agreed to work with all WTO Members to strengthen the WTO with a view to promote development and inclusivity.

In addition, the meeting recalled that the reform of the WTO has been raised for many years by developing countries in recognition of the imbalances arising from the Uruguay Round and that the current multilateral trading system has not been sufficiently inclusive and participatory. It has also not assisted to address the concerns of developing countries, in particular the reform of agriculture trade which is still subject to trade distortions that inhibit effective participation of developing countries resulting in the launch of the Doha Development Round.

“We must therefore approach the entirety of all discussions and proposals around the reform of the WTO from a perspective of reform for development and inclusivity”, says Davies.

In relation to Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT), the meeting re-affirmed that S&DT is one of the defining features of the multilateral trading system and its provisions are rights of developing countries that must be preserved and strengthened in both the current and future WTO Agreements.

According to Minister Davies concern was raised in relation to the lack of consensus by the WTO membership in the selection process to fill vacancies in the Appellate Body.

“The immediate priority is settling the impasse with regards to the appointment of members of the Appellate Body without which multilateral trade rules would soon be unenforceable or meaningless. The discussions on new rules becomes redundant if the Appellate Body crises cannot be resolved”, adds Davies.

Minister Davies says the meeting has re-affirmed that a functional dispute settlement mechanism is essential to a predictable multilateral trading system.

“It also noted that the ongoing impasse in filling the vacancies in the Appellate Body has weakened the dispute settlement system and threatens to completely paralyse it by December 2019”, states Davies.

The meeting adopted an Outcomes Ministerial Document- “Working Collectively to strengthening the WTO to promote development and inclusivity” and committed to work collectively with the aim of developing proposals to ensure that the interests of developing countries are reflected in the WTO reform process.

Minister Rob Davies and his Indian counterpart, Suresh Prabhu at the WTO Ministerial Meeting

Sidwell Medupe-Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Issued by: The Department of Trade and Industry
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