WTO focuses on working together on multilateral trade

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DHAKA/NEW DELHI, May 14, 2019 (BSS) – The two-day WTO ministerial meeting concluded in New Delhi today with a declaration for all member countries to work together to ensure the growth benefits for 7.3 billion people in developing countries.

Ministers and high-level officials from Egypt, Barbados, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Jamaica, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, China, Benin, Chad, India, Indonesia, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Oman met in the Indian capital May 13-14 May to explore ways for working with all members to strengthen the multilateral trading system.

“We re-affirm that the dispute settlement system of the WTO is a central element in providing security and predictability to the multilateral trading system. This has proved to be more effective and reliable as compared to its predecessor, GATT,” said the Delhi declaration.

It said members have failed to arrive at a consensus in the selection process to fill vacancies in the Appellate Body and this ongoing impasse has weakened the dispute settlement system and threatens to completely paralyze it by December 2019.

“We, therefore, urge all WTO members to engage constructively to address this challenge without any delay in filling the vacancies in the Appellate Body,” added the declaration.

Besides, an inclusive multilateral trading system based on equality and mutual respect should ensure that all WTO Members abide by WTO rules and abjure any form of protectionism. “The core value and basic principles of the multilateral trading system must be preserved and strengthened, particularly with a view to building trust among Members.”

To this end, the declaration said, “We urge WTO Members to adopt measures that are compatible with WTO rules to avoid putting the multilateral trading system at risk.”

It said members may need to explore different options to address the challenges of contemporary trade realities in a balanced manner.

“Special and Differential Treatment is one of the main defining features of the multilateral trading system and is essential to integrating developing Members into global trade,” said the declaration, adding, “Special and Differential Treatment provisions are rights of developing Members that must be preserved and strengthened in both current and future WTO agreements, with priority attention to outstanding LDC issues.”

The meeting also stressed the importance of technical assistance and capacity building provided to developing Members, in particular LDCs, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework, Aid for Trade and other tools.