Developed countries should not link WTO reforms with special and differential treatment for developing nations: Piyush Goyal

Developing countries linking World Trade Organisation reforms with special and differential treatment (S&DT), being provided to poor and developing nations, is “unfair” and the trade body needs to reassess the way it has been conducting its affairs, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said. He also said that the world today also has to reassess whether certain countries are genuinely following global multilateral rules transparently and in a fair manner.

The S&DT allows developing and poor (less developed) countries to enjoy certain benefits, including taking longer time periods for implementing agreements and binding commitments, and measures to increase trading opportunities for them. Currently, any WTO member can designate itself as a developing country and avail these benefits.

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. 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.

During a CII event, Goyal said that to deprive countries, having low per capita income, from certain differentiated treatment, and put them on the same benchmark with countries having $ 60,000 – $ 80,000 per capita income as it is “grossly unfair”.

Goyal said that discussions can happen on the issue about which country should be considered developing and which should be developed and “I think the world should be open to discuss that”. Further talking about sustainability, the minister said the developed world talks about the issue but have they done enough to meet the goals. “I would request the developed countries introspect on what they have done,” he said.
The 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), the highest decision making body of the WTO, will take place from November 30 to December 3 in Geneva.

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