TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT
“I would like to believe that success at MC12 and instructions given by ministers there will open up possibilities to advance our work,” Ambassador Hassan said. “If members collaborate the same way they did at MC12, we stand a chance to finally conclude areas of negotiations.”
In the MC12 Outcome Document adopted by ministers at MC12, WTO members reaffirmed the provisions of special and differential treatment (S&DT) for developing and least developed country (LDC) members as an integral part of the WTO and its agreements.
WTO members instructed their officials to continue to work on improving the application of S&DT in the special sessions of the Committee on Trade and Development and other relevant venues and report on progress to the General Council before the WTO's next Ministerial Conference.
The WTO’s agreements contain over 150 provisions for developing countries and LDCs. They include access to technical assistance activities and longer transition periods to implement agreements and decisions.
Discussions in the special session of the committee before MC12 were based on ten Agreement-specific proposals tabled by the WTO G90 group of developing countries and LDCs in March 2020 to strengthen existing S&DT provisions and make them more precise, effective and operational.
The G90 submitted an unofficial room document in advance of the 23 September committee meeting noting the ministerial commitment made at MC12 and setting out a post-MC12 road map for addressing the issue.
The members that took the floor welcomed the instructions on S&DT given by ministers at MC12. Some delegations believed that the elements laid out in the unofficial room document by the G90 were conducive to taking the discussions forward. Others said that, while they support developing countries' integration into the global trading system and are willing to discuss S&DT provisions in the WTO, fundamental changes are needed in the approach to the conversation.
The G90 indicated that it would soon be circulating a formal proposal on how the work in the special session can be organized and structured in the coming months.
The chair concluded the meeting by noting the discussion provided food for thought on how to advance the work. All members recognize the importance of S&DT even if the discussions once again revealed divergences on how to approach the issue. She urged members to keep an open mind and consider fresh ideas on how to work towards an agreed outcome.
“If we want to achieve compromise, I think there is a need for flexibility from all sides,” Ambassador Hassan said. “The political guidance has been given. It is left to us here in Geneva to see how we can take it forward and how we can achieve a balanced and positive outcome.”
More information on special and differential treatment can be found here.