WTO: US and China Collaborate on Transparency


The United States is apparently going to work closely with China on Washington’s proposal to enhance transparency at the World Trade Organization, as some members seemed indifferent or somewhat opposed to the US proposal to improve transparency with some naming-and-shaming provisions, our correspondent has learned.

During the group meetings to discuss industrial policies, industrialization and policy space at the just-concluded retreat on Tuesday, Washington and Beijing – which were placed in the same group – discussed how to extend special and differential treatment while adhering to transparency provisions.

During the discussion, US trade envoy Ambassador Maria Pagan is understood to have told her Chinese counterpart Ambassador Li Chenggang that Washington is facing a problem in advancing its proposal on transparency. In response, the Chinese envoy apparently said China is ready to discuss the US proposal on transparency, said participants of the group.

Taking a cue from Ambassador Li’s response, the US trade envoy said she would send her officials to the Chinese mission to discuss the transparency proposal, said participants who asked not to be quoted.

Over the past four years, Washington has found it difficult to advance its transparency proposals on one ground or the other, said a trade envoy, adding they have serious questions about the burdensome American proposal.

During her remarks at the Center for Strategic & International Affairs meeting last week, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai repeatedly emphasized the importance of transparency in World Trade Organization reform.

Ambassador Tai said Washington’s first priority is “improving transparency.” She added “The United States was the first member to table a proposal on transparency five years ago. Transparency is a precondition to ensuring fairness and accountability in the system. Every WTO member has the responsibility to let other members and the public know of their laws and regulations affecting trade. And this is critical for fair competition and a level playing field for working people everywhere. Strengthening transparency will improve our ability to monitor compliance and to help resolve our disputes.”

She continued: “To get there, we need to make it easier for members to share their laws and regulations, and for the public to search and view them. And that’s why we are working on using new digital tools to do just that. And we support providing technical assistance for developing countries so that we all benefit from this. We also need to make this a meaningful norm of WTO membership. Members took on an unqualified obligation to be transparent and make notifications. And these commitments have to mean something. Countries that are deliberately not honoring this obligation are undermining the international trading system.”


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