NEW DELHI: Ten WTO member countries, including India, have suggested expeditious resolution of problems being faced by the dispute settlement body and called for addressing issues emanating from unilateral actions taken by some countries.
In a paper for strengthening the WTO to promote development and inclusivity, these 10 countries have emphasised that the special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should continue arguing that it was a non-negotiable right.
"The immediate priorities for reform at the WTO must include -- resolving the crisis in the appellate body, and addressing the unilateral actions taken by some members," it said.
The appellate body is an important organ of the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism and the US is creating a roadblock in the appointment of judges in the body.
The minimum quorum (3) for the functioning of this body will end on December 10, after which it will become dysfunctional.
It said "a sine qua non (an essential condition) for strengthening the system is unblocking the vacancies in the appellate body.
This is an urgent priority since in the absence of a functional, effective and independent mechanism for enforcing rules, negotiating new rules in any area makes no sense".
Further, countries like the US have taken unilateral actions such as imposing high import duties, which has triggered trade war.
The paper also stressed that said the WTO reform must reaffirm the principle of special and differential treatment (S&DT), which is a "treaty-embedded, non-negotiable right" for all developing countries. "Through this concept paper, we seek to identify the issues that must be addressed if the WTO is to be strengthened in a balanced manner," it added.
The S&DT are flexibilities provided to developing countries in the WTO.
Under this, they enjoy benefits like higher domestic support for the agriculture sector and longer time periods for implementing agreements and binding commitments.
Besides India, the other countries are South Africa, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Malawi, Oman, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.