Developed nations want to expand WTO agenda

What is the News?

India’s Commerce and Industry Minister has said that developed countries linking World Trade Organisation (WTO) reforms with special and differential treatment (S&DT) being provided to poor and developing nations is “unfair”.

What is Special and differential treatment (S&DT) under WTO?

WTO agreements contain special provisions which give developing countries special rights and allow other members to treat them more favorably. These are called “special and differential treatment provisions” (abbreviated as S&D or SDT). These special provisions include: 

– longer time periods for implementing agreements and commitments

– measures to increase trading opportunities for these countries

– provisions requiring all WTO members to safeguard the trade interests of developing countries

– support to help developing countries build the infrastructure to undertake WTO work, handle disputes and implement technical standards.

– Provisions related to least-developed country (LDC) members

What is the problem with S&DT under WTO?

Currently, any WTO member can designate itself as a developing country and avail S&DT  benefits. 

– As a result of the self-selection process, there is a competition among members to get the developing country status. Several advanced countries have also taken developing country status.

Hence, that’s why the US had submitted its suggestions to the WTO that states that self-declaration puts the WTO on a path to failed negotiations, and it is also a path to institutional irrelevance.

However, India is of the view that the matter needs to be negotiated comprehensively in the WTO and a consensus-based decision needs to be taken on S&DT.

Source: This post is based on the article Developed nations want to expand WTO agenda  published by TOI on 21st Nov 2021.

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