- WTO issues 2021 Annual Report
- USTR Announces Reallocation of Unused Fiscal Year 2021 WTO Tarrif-Rate Quota Volume for Raw Cane Sugar
- WTO members continue review of e-commerce work programme and other issues
- WTO Director-General Okonjo-Iweala highlights vital role of trade for global food security
The WTO’s Annual Report, published 9 July, provides a comprehensive account of the organization’s activities in 2020 and early 2021. The Report opens with a message from Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and a brief overview of the past year. This is followed by in-depth accounts of the WTO’s main areas of activity.
In her opening message, DG Okonjo-Iweala says:
“The multilateral trading system has played an important part in efforts to fight COVID-19. Trade’s resilience represented a lifeline for millions, enabling access to food and other essential supplies. Now, the WTO can and must play a critical role in accelerating COVID-19 vaccine production and in ensuring a strong, sustained and inclusive global economic recovery.
“To live up to its founding objectives of using trade to help people – to raise living standards, create jobs and promote sustainable development – the WTO must deliver results this year. By responding together to a global crisis without precedent in our lifetimes, members can begin to rebuild the trust needed to address future challenges.”
The Annual Report is available in print and electronic format: https://www.wto.org/english/res_e/booksp_e/anrep_e/anrep21_e.pdf
The Office of the United States Trade Representative today announced the reallocation of the unused country-specific quota allocations under the tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) on imported raw cane sugar for Fiscal Year 2021, which runs from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.
TRQs allow countries to export specified quantities of a product to the United States at a relatively low tariff. However, all imports of the product above a pre-determined threshold are subjected to a higher tariff.
On July 9, 2020, the Department of Agriculture announced the establishment of the in-quota quantity for raw cane sugar for FY 2021. The in-quota quantity for the TRQ on raw cane sugar for FY 2021 is 1,117,195 metric tons raw value (MTRV), which is the minimum amount to which the United States is committed under the World Trade Organization (WTO).
On July 22, 2020, USTR provided notice of country-by-country allocations of the FY 2021 in-quota quantity of the WTO TRQ for imported raw cane sugar. Based on consultation with quota holders, USTR has determined to reallocate 76,571 MTRV of the original TRQ quantity from those countries that have stated they do not plan to fill their FY 2021 allocated raw cane sugar quantities. USTR is allocating the 76,571 MTRV to the following countries in the amounts specified below:
|№||Country||FY 2021 Raw Sugar Unused Reallocation (MTRV)|
|7||Costa Rica||1 381|
|8||Dominican Republic||16 217|
|10||El Salvador||2 396|
|11||Eswatini (Swaziland)||1 474|
|24||South Africa||2 119|
The 1 July meeting of the Council on Trade in Services addressed the following issues:
E-commerce Work Programme
Members continued their information-sharing exercise related to electronic commerce, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Members also reiterated their positions regarding the WTO’s e-commerce moratorium. At previous Ministerial Conferences, members have agreed not to impose customs duties on electronic transmissions. The current extension of the moratorium runs until the 12th Ministerial Conference scheduled for late 2021.
Services trade concerns
Japan and the United States reiterated concerns about cybersecurity measures of both China and Viet Nam; China sought further clarifications about Australia’s 5G measures and raised concerns regarding services trade measures of India. The US repeated its concerns and sought clarifications about Russia’s software pre-installation mandate. The United States raised a new concern regarding requirements for the localization of customer services in Saudi Arabia.
Negotiations on domestic regulation for services
Five delegations expressed concerns, at a meeting of the Working Party on Domestic Regulation on 30 June, with the Joint initiative on Services Domestic Regulation. The members mentioned a risk of undermining the consensus-based nature of the multilateral trading system and amending or diluting existing rules of the GATS.
Role of maritime transport in post-pandemic recovery
Experts shed light on the evolution of the maritime transport sector before, during and after the pandemic. They also stressed how maritime transport can support economic recovery and pointed to the role of the world trading system in facilitating maritime transport and strengthening supply chains.
Addressing the Global Dialogue on Trade, event organized by the WTO Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Food Systems Summit, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala underlined the growing importance of international trade in building the food systems needed for the 21st century.
It will be important to address trade distortions and ensure the sustainability of food systems because trade in food will shape the future of land, water and energy use. Trade has helped create jobs and raise incomes, enhancing people’s ability to purchase food.
The Director-General welcomed the forthcoming United Nations’ Food Systems Summit and its role in reaffirming the need for building food systems that are “fit for purpose and capable of responding to the concerns of the 21st century”. The United Nations’ Food Systems Summit, convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, is due to take place in September 2021.