Canada’s interventions – WTO General Council
July 27-28, 2021
8. CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE MULTILATERAL PROCESS ON THE WTO RESPONSE TO THE PANDEMIC
A. DRAFT GENERAL COUNCIL DECLARATION - COVID-19 AND BEYOND: TRADE AND HEALTH – COMMUNICATION FROM AUSTRALIA; BRAZIL; BRUNEI DARUSSALAM; CANADA; CHILE; CHINA; THE EUROPEAN UNION; HONG KONG, CHINA; ICELAND; JAPAN; KAZAKHSTAN; KENYA; REPUBLIC OF KOREA; MEXICO; REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA; MONTENEGRO; NEW ZEALAND; NORTH MACEDONIA; NORWAY; SINGAPORE; SWITZERLAND; THE SEPARATE CUSTOMS TERRITORY OF TAIWAN, PENGHU, KINMEN AND MATSU; THE UNITED KINGDOM; URUGUAY AND VANUATU (WT/GC/W/823)
- Thank you Chair for the opportunity to update the General Council on the draft declaration titled “COVID-19 and Beyond: Trade and Health” and its contribution to the multilateral process on the WTO response to the pandemic.
- Since the last General Council meeting, the initiative has added five more WTO Members as co-sponsors - Brunei Darussalam, Chinese Taipei, Uruguay, Vanuatu and Kazakhstan - bringing the total number to 52 WTO Members.
- More importantly, we have recently circulated a revised and updated version of the initiative in document WT/GC/W/823 which contains a number of improvements and additions to the proposal.
- To begin, in our discussions in past meetings, we have always been clear; the trade policy actions set out in this proposed declaration are not an exclusive list.
- That said, we identified them as critical to help keep trade in essential medical goods, including vaccines, open and to support the ramping up of production of these goods.
- We recognize that there may be complementary aspects of trade policy that can also help Members respond to global crises such as the one we continue to face.
- The actions we decided to focus on in the Declaration are designed to make a positive, trade facilitating contribution to the WTO response to the current pandemic and to enhance Members’ resilience against future pandemics.
- I’d like to now highlight the new elements in the text.
- First, we believe it is imperative for governments to respond to the widespread call for restraint and transparency when it comes to export restrictions.
- We therefore suggest strengthened action in relation to:
- (i) using such measures only when necessary and as a last resort after considering other less trade-restrictive measures;
- (ii) regularly reviewing if they remain necessary and to limit market disruptions to the greatest extent; and
- (iii) recognizing that substantial producers have a particular responsibility towards achieving equitable access to essential medical goods, especially for Members which are highly dependent on imports.
- We have also added calls for increased transparency from Members around imposed export restrictions, including calls for positive responses from those Members to any requests for urgent consultations from Members affected by those measures.
- Lastly, we believe it helpful that the WTO proactively share any information provided by Members with the organizations responsible for the operational response to the crisis.
- We see the sharing of trade policy information by the WTO as helping to create a collaborative approach to informing on the current conditions for trade, and for receiving feedback regarding the real-time trade barriers that may restrain that operational response by other international organizations.
- Second, we have added a commitment to intensifying efforts to accelerate the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement provisions that support the timely and efficient release of goods.
- There is also a proposal to that effect currently being discussed in the Trade Facilitation Committee and it deserves further advancement by Members.
- Third, and in support of ongoing efforts, we are calling for further cooperation among all WTO Members, and between the WTO and other international organisations and the private sector, to support the production and distribution of essential medical goods, including vaccines.
- This also includes further work by the WTO to report on COVID-19 measures taken by Members and to report on the trade in essential medical goods.
- Members are also called upon to examine how to improve data gaps in our understanding on the production, demand and supply of such goods, including through a review of statistical collection and classification of goods.
- Fourth, the co-sponsors believe Members need to consider the establishment at MC12 of a work programme on pandemic preparedness which could lead to additional steps or commitments that could help Members to enhance their preparedness and crisis resilience.
- Chair, these updates to the proposed Declaration are designed to respond to the changed circumstances faced today as compared to the end of 2020 when the ideas were first discussed in the General Council, as well as lessons learnt since then.
- This Declaration also can be seen as a concrete contribution to the multilateral process on the WTO response to the pandemic.
- Thank you.
15. PROPOSED GENERAL COUNCIL DECISION ON PROCEDURES TO ENHANCE TRANSPARENCY AND STRENGTHEN NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS UNDER WTO AGREEMENTS – ARGENTINA; AUSTRALIA; CANADA; CHILE; COSTA RICA; THE EUROPEAN UNION; ISRAEL; JAPAN; NEW ZEALAND; NORWAY; SINGAPORE; SWITZERLAND; THE SEPARATE CUSTOMS TERRITORY OF TAIWAN, PENGHU, KINMEN AND MATSU; UNITED KINGDOM; AND THE UNITED STATES (JOB/GC/204/REV.6 - JOB/CTG/14/REV.6)
- Thank you, Chair,
- In reading through past interventions by Members on this proposal in the Council for Trade in Goods, three common threads appear to Canada.
- First, there is a universal recognition that compliance with notification requirements is an essential element in the context of Members discharging their WTO obligations.
- Only in this way can we provide other Members with the information and clarity on our laws and regulations, facts and figures, as well as the measures impacting upon international trade.
- Second, that the first step should be a comprehensive review of notification requirements, in order to make an effort to understand the difficulties facing developing Members.
- Based on that review, updates to the notification requirements could then be considered, and more focussed technical assistance and capacity building could be provided to those Members that have fallen behind.
- And third, there were many voices objecting to the imposition of a financial penalty if non-compliance continued to exist.
- Chair, in reading through this substantially revised proposal, you will see clearly that these comments have been heard and incorporated.
- All that is left is for us now is to approve the proposal and activate the Working Group on Notification Obligations and Procedures to begin its efforts to support provision of that information and clarity all Members want.
18. WAIVERS UNDER ARTICLE IX OF THE WTO AGREEMENT
B. REVIEW OF WAIVERS PURSUANT TO ARTICLE IX:4 OF THE WTO AGREEMENT
(III) CANADA – CARIBCAN, GRANTED ON 28 JULY 2015 UNTIL 31 DECEMBER 2023 (WT/L/958, WT/L/1112)
- Recognizing the special relationship between Canada and the Commonwealth Caribbean, in 1986 CARIBCAN was established to help improve the trade and economic development prospects of the region.
- In light of the continuing relevance of the considerations underlying CARIBCAN, the initiative’s objectives, scope and coverage remain unchanged.
- Canada thanks those Members that have expressed support for the CARIBCAN program and the associated WTO waiver.
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