Special provisions provided to developing nations in all the agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO) through special and differential treatment (S&DT) are a non-negotiable matter for emerging economies, said Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.
“The gaps between the developing and developed members have not narrowed down in decades; In fact, they have widened in many areas. S&D provisions, therefore, continue to be relevant, ”Goyal said at the thematic session on WTO reforms at the global trade body’s 12th ministerial conference (MC12) in Geneva.
“India strongly supports the robust WTO reforms and modernization agenda that is balanced and inclusive, and preserves the core principles of the current multilateral system,” he said.
Developed countries are of the view that developing countries are bypassing rules at the WTO in the name of self-proclaimed development status. Developing nations, such as India, have called for special and differential treatment.
“We need to accord priority to the reform needs, especially to the crisis at the appellate body, whose functioning should become more transparent and effective,” the minister said.
The appellate body is a standing body of seven persons that hears appeals from reports issued by panels in disputes brought by WTO members. Currently, the appellate body is unable to review appeals due to positions remaining vacant.
The term of the last sitting appellate body member expired on November 30, 2020.
Developed countries have also raised issues concerning the working of this body and are seeking reforms.
Goyal suggested the reform process should take place in the general council and its regular bodies, as it has the authority to act on behalf of the ministers, and reform discussions must not be held with the aim of undermining the authority of the existing bodies of the WTO.