'Dilution of S&D provisions for developing countries would lead to continuation of deadlock in WTO'

India along with several others countries, including China and African nations, has cautioned against diluting special and differential treatment provisions related to developing countries, saying it would lead to "intractable deadlock" at the WTO.

A communication by west African country Benin, on behalf of the African Group, Bolivia, China, Cuba, India and Oman has said that developing countries' should continue to enjoy benefits of special and differential treatment (S&D) under WTO rules and they must be allowed to make their own assessments regarding their own developing country status.

They have also stated that existing S&D provisions must be upheld and it should be provided in the current and future negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

"Attempts to water down these principles would be a recipe for intractable deadlock at the WTO, including in the negotiations on fisheries subsidies. It is in the interest of the entire membership to avoid this situation," the communication sent to the WTO said.

This communication, dated October 8, is being circulated at the request of the delegations of Benin, on behalf of the African Group, Bolivia, China, Cuba, India and Oman.

The S&D allows developing countries to enjoy certain benefits including taking longer time periods for implementing agreements and binding commitments, and measures to increase trading opportunities for them.

Currently, any WTO member can designate itself as a developing country and avail these benefits.

The US had submitted its suggestions to the WTO which states that self-declaration puts the WTO on a path to failed negotiations and it is also a path to institutional irrelevance.

Further it said that any unilateral action depriving developing members including LDCs (least developed countries) of treaty-embedded rights would be inconsistent with members' obligations, and would in fact erode the foundation of the multilateral trading system which functions on the basis of being 'rules-based'.

"This will cause lasting and systemic damage to the trading system," it added.

S&D has provided developing members including LDCs the space to calibrate their trade integration and formulate their domestic trade policies in ways that help them reduce poverty, generate employment and integrate meaningfully into the global trading system, it said.

"Nevertheless, to date, the development challenges and divide persist and have in fact deepened in significant areas, it said adding the S&D provisions remains extremely important for trade to be more inclusive and equitable, as well as for developing countries to meet their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).