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USA broadside leaves WTO meeting in tatters

13 December 2017

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, Japan's trade minister Hiroshige Seko and United States representative Robert Lighthizer agreed to strengthen their committment to "ensure a global level playing field". "We have to ask ourselves whether this is good for the institution and whether the current litigation structure makes sense".

Trade ministers from 164 countries looked set to conclude their biennial World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Argentina without having reached a single agreement on Wednesday, still smarting from stinging criticism of the trade body voiced by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Too many countries were not following WTO rules, he complained, and too many wealthier members had been given unfair exemptions as developing countries.

"So, we need special provision for India and other developing countries", said Sharma in support of permanent solution for the food security issue.

"We need to clarify our understanding of development within the WTO".

Countries claiming development status at the WTO are given concessions, including longer transitions periods, before being required to fully implement agreements. Its opposition has raised concerns that the WTO will not be able to accomplish even modest goals, such as addressing fishing and agricultural subsidies, at the conference. We are committed to preserving and promoting the WTO and the multilateral trading system with a view to take the agreed agenda of the WTO forward.

According to sources, Assistant US Trade Representative Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, in a small group meeting, said that permanent solution to the food stockholding issue was not acceptable to America.

Trump has long protested that the body's multilateralism is hampering USA trade at the expense of bilateral deals. The United States has vetoed new judges for trade disputes, pushing the organization into a crisis. "118 WTO members and observers agreed to support the "Buenos Aires Declaration on Women and Trade", which seeks to remove barriers to, and foster, women's economic empowerment".

This was met by a sharp rebuttal from Commerce and Industry minister Suresh Prabhu. Many believe Lighthizer was hinting at India and China, whose GDP growth is over 5%.

The European Union, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Nigeria and Singapore wanted outcomes in e-commerce disciplines to open cross border digital trade and wanted some more "efficient discussions" in terms of more involvement of the General Council.

Japan's Trade and Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko said Japan would support efforts to boost reporting standards. His administration has slapped anti-dumping tariffs on a range of Chinese imports, toughened its stance on Chinese investment in the US, and is considering an investigation into whether Chinese companies are stealing the intellectual property of USA companies. "This has the potential to irreversibly damage the credibility of the WTO as a Ministerial Decision of all countries present in Nairobi has not been honored", India's Commerce Ministry said without directly naming the US.

"While the WTO is not a ideal institution, we look forward to working with other member states to ensure it responds to modern realities and issues important to middle class Canadians", Pickerill said.

USA broadside leaves WTO meeting in tatters