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Trade Negotiations Committee and Heads of Delegation Meeting
July 23, 2021

Trade Negotiations Committee and Heads of Delegation Meeting 

Statement by the United States
23 July 2021

As Delivered

Thank you Chair. I would like to begin by highlighting our call for realism as we undertake our work during a pandemic, which will impact our ability to prepare for MC12.

We see little scope for negotiated outcomes and caution against a host of new work plans or working groups on issues where there is little chance of consensus.

The United States urges a targeted approach focused on the WTO’s contribution to recovery from the pandemic, and addressing a manageable set of WTO institutional issues.

Specific MC12 outcomes could include accelerating the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and proposals on transparency and notifications and on the SPS Agreement.

We will also continue to work diligently on S&D reform and will look for ways that we can use the WTO to make trade a force for good, a means to raise wages and achieve greater economic equality and security for all.

We look forward to working with Members on these and other important issues that can make the WTO more relevant to the everyday lives of our people and make MC12 a success.

Turning to the fisheries subsidies negotiations, I would like to underscore the statement of my Minister during the WTO Ministerial meeting on July 15.

The United States is committed to working with Members to reach a conclusion to the negotiations, but it must be a meaningful conclusion.

While the current negotiating text can serve as the basis for a Member-led, text-based negotiation, it does not yet contain the elements required for reaching conclusion.

The United States has proposed a targeted approach to ensure that highlighting and addressing the use of forced labor on fishing vessels are part of any outcome. This is an important way for the WTO to positively impact the lives of our fishers and workers.

There are other key elements missing from the negotiating text, and significant shortcomings must be addressed.

This includes the approach with respect to special and differential treatment. A blanket approach to SDT with permanent carveouts is neither appropriate nor effective. It also does not reflect the reality that some self-declared developing country Members are among the largest producers and subsidizers, or among the wealthiest Members of this organization.

The United States is committed to continuing to work constructively with Members to reach an agreement that can make a serious and credible contribution to ending harmful fisheries subsidies.

As some Members have noted the proposed funding mechanism, I wanted to comment that we are reviewing the concept note, but have serious concerns with respect to this approach from both a substantive and institutional perspective.

Substantively, Members are already providing technical assistance on these matters through a variety of mechanisms, both bilaterally and through other institutions. We question the value of duplicating such efforts.

Moreover, it is difficult to assess the purpose or need for this funding mechanism given the number of open questions remaining in the negotiating text, including the shape of the actual disciplines or the approach to SDT. It certain respects, the concept note appears to overstate what is currently contemplated by the Chair’s text.

Institutionally, we are greatly troubled with the approach taken by the WTO with previous funding mechanisms, and we are concerned a mechanism of this nature for fisheries will yield the same result.