Prepared Remarks: What's at stake for America at the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) at Abu Dhabi in February 2024
27 November 2023
No one knows the extent to which the world of digital commerce would be curtailed through the imposition by foreign governments of tariffs in the absence of this prohibition. [...] A potential US role in near-term institutional reform of the WTO The top two reform priorities for MC13 must be to restore the promise of the WTO to be a place where trade agreements can be negotiated, and where trade disputes are settled. [...] The clearest path forward to restoring the negotiating function of the WTO is for the members to adopt an agreement concluded within a coalition of the willing (an open plurilateral agreement) as part of the WTO acquis, without being blocked by nonparticipants. [...] Completion of the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement would not solve the failure at the WTO to include open plurilateral agreements as an important part of the structure of the WTO. [...] The bottom line: While it is possible to make progress on resolving the dispute settlement impasse at MC13, it would be unrealistic, to assume that binding dispute settlement itself will be restored, applicable to all, absent addressing major US objections: the narrowing of the availability of trade remedies, the intrusion of a panel into a member’s decision to invoke the national security excepti.