- Investment facilitation talks advance, delve into implementation and technical assistance
- WTO members urged to hasten towards fisheries subsidies compromise in stocktaking meeting
- Japan initiates WTO dispute complaint against Chinese steel duties
- Canada pledges CAD 193,000 for food, animal and plant health standards
Participants in the discussions on investment facilitation for development continued to make progress in negotiating a future agreement. At a new round of meetings on 16-17 June, which saw a high level of engagement, delegations also participated in a dedicated session on implementation, technical assistance and capacity building with a view to informing and facilitating discussions on these issues.
Participating members heard the reports from the facilitators of the discussion groups on “scope” and “facilitation of the entry and temporary stay of businesspersons for investment purposes” who highlighted progress since the last intersessional meeting on 31 May – 1 June. The facilitator of the group on scope presented the group’s text contribution, which addresses some key aspects of the overall scope of application of the future agreement. Participants also heard about ongoing work by the group on facilitation of the entry and temporary stay of businesspersons for investment purposes, which met on 3 June.
Participants discussed three texts prepared by the coordinator. The first is a revised version of Section II (Transparency of investment measures), which is one of the main substantive pillars of the future agreement. The second text is a revised version of provision 30 on “Responsible business conduct”, which is included in Section VI (Sustainable investment). The final text is on a possible most-favoured nation treatment provision. Participants also continued the discussion on “Transfers and payments”, based on a revised proposal.
A half day was dedicated to a session on implementation, technical assistance and capacity building. The objective was to provide members with practical insights to pave the way for the upcoming discussions on Section V “Special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed country members”.
The session was divided into two panels. The first focused on “Lessons learnt from the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) implementation”. Delegates heard the experience of members benefitting from the flexibilities offered in the TFA, including the provisions on technical assistance and capacity building. The second panel addressed “Lessons learnt from international organizations active in the implementation of investment facilitation measures/reforms”. Representatives from leading international organizations shared good practices and challenges encountered.
WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies have progressed ahead of the 15 July meeting of ministers, but gaps remain and much is left to be done to secure an agreement, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, told heads of delegations on 14 June.
The Director-General noted that Group of 7 (G7) leaders highlighted over the weekend the importance of a meaningful conclusion to the fisheries subsidies negotiations, and that ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and from the Caribbean Community have also pledged their support for the discussions.
Ambassador Wills likewise thanked members for their engagement so far and sought their flexibility and readiness to compromise in the next few weeks. Meetings for the rest of this week will focus on the transparency and notification provisions, possible institutional arrangements and on new proposals from members. A meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee, chaired by the Director-General, will be held on 25 June for members to discuss how the July ministerial meeting will be run.
Under the mandate from the WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference held in Buenos Aires in 2017 and the UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 14.6, negotiators have been given the task of securing agreement on disciplines to eliminate subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies.
Japan has requested WTO dispute consultations with China concerning anti-dumping measures imposed by China on certain stainless steel products from Japan. The request was circulated to WTO members on 15 June.
Japan claims the measures in question, imposed in 2019 by China’s Ministry of Commerce, appear to be inconsistent with various provisions under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 and the Anti-Dumping Agreement.
Further information is available in document WT/DS601/1.
A request for consultations
The request for consultations formally initiates a dispute in the WTO. Consultations give the parties an opportunity to discuss the matter and to find a satisfactory solution without proceeding further with litigation. After 60 days, if consultations have failed to resolve the dispute, the complainant may request adjudication by a panel.
Canada is contributing CAD 193,000 (approximately CHF 111,000) to the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) in 2021 to help developing countries comply with international food safety, animal and plant health standards and access agricultural markets more easily. The donation will help developing countries and least-developed countries improve their sanitary and phytosanitary capacity.
Canada has contributed over CHF 13 million to WTO trust funds over the past 19 years.