Items 1, 2 and 3. TNC report, MC12 outcome implementation and Ecommerce.
Chair, on WTO reform, we thank you for the report on your consultations both today and Tuesday. It is a very comprehensive report and fully reflects members’ views.
For China, we see that WTO reform is an ongoing exercise, rather than from scratch. The agreed paragraph 3 and 4 in the outcome document of MC12 mean that all members are committed to the WTO reform and are ready to engage. We hope such commitments will become concrete actions. In this regard, we agree with you that subsidiary bodies should be tasked to see what have already been done and what are already on the table.
On substances, Dispute Settlement, especially a fully functioning Appellate Body is our first priority. We welcome the current expert discussions and hope it could lay a good basis for further formal discussion and decision-making at a later stage. Also, proposals on other functions of this organization are already on the table. It is important for us to ensure that by MC13, if not earlier, concrete outcomes could be achieved in these areas, as they are critical to the existence and functioning of the WTO.
During the whole process of this reform, WTO’s core principles should be well preserved and observed. Development should be at the centre of the whole exercise. The process should be member-driven and proposal-led. In the meantime, we should avoid conceptual debates, but rather focus on substances, and seriously engage in discussions especially on those proposals from developing members and LDCs.
This reform should be regarded as an opportunity to find new way of thinking and new approach to get the things done, rather than be seen as an excuse to overturn the existing mandates. In the meantime, we should also be careful not to overload this organization by introducing topics that are not relevant to trade or beyond the mandate of WTO as a trade organization.
On E-commerce, my intervention will cover item 2B and 3. On the work programme of E-commerce, we hope the successful MC12 will lead the discussions in relevant bodies to be more substantial and targeted with the engagement of all members. China notes the CTD document WT/COMTD/W/264 circulated by India and South Africa, and we look forward to engaging in the discussions on further proposals submitted by members in CTG, CTS and TRIPs Council.
On Moratorium, it is disappointing that after several years of discussions, members’ positions are still polarized. We see the value of those dedicated discussions held before under the auspices of General Council, and we support your idea to continue such kind of discussions. People emphasize the need to have experts representing different views of members and we agree to it. But from the previous experience, we see that members with different views will refer to analytical studies of experts supporting their own positions and people are talking on different pages. So, if we want to have a common ground for such kind of discussion to build consensus, we need to have an analytical study acceptable to all members as a discussion basis. For this purpose, we would like to suggest the Secretariat to take the leading role to work together with OECD, UNCTAD and other experts to have a joint study which could facilitate members’ discussion and help reach consensus.
Item 4. Paragraph 8 of TRIPS decision
Let me start by thanking Ambassador Gberie, Chair of TRIPS Council, for steering the consultations on the TRIPS waiver extension. However, despite the efforts made by members, it is regrettable that no progress has been made since September. It seems that we once again witnessed entrenched positions as we did at the early stage of vaccine negotiations. With the fast approaching of December deadline, the sense of urgency has to be enhanced, to improve the dynamic of negotiations.
TRIPs waiver on vaccines is indeed a hard-won outcome at MC12, but there is no room for complacency considering the uneven condition of response to pandemic around the world as well as the unfulfilled instructions given by our Ministers, i.e. paragraph 8 of the Ministerial Decision. As Dr. Tedros very recently stated, the COVID-19 pandemic remains an acute global emergency, and if we don’t take this opportunity now, we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty. Therefore, on top of making better use of TRIPS waiver on vaccines, it is also morally imperative and pragmatically needed to continue our efforts to enhance the accessibility and affordability of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics.
Throughout the negotiating process, on the one hand, we should always bear in mind that the global challenge has to be addressed through joint efforts. At this extremely difficult time, moral obligation shall prevail over commercial interest, global welfare shall precede over national interest. On the other hand, we also need to recognize the complexity of diagnostics and therapeutics, and try to strike a balance between waiver and IP protection. Therefore, focusing on a handful of products that are most important, critical and needed by developing members to fight against the pandemic may constitute a feasible and practicable approach that members could explore.
Having said that, we call upon all members to accelerate domestic consultation process respectively, engage in discussions with frankness and good-faith with a view to delivering meaningful and balanced outcome in the coming months.
Item 5. LDC graduation
China would like to join others in thanking Djibouti for its comprehensive and detailed introduction. We see smooth transition as essential for graduated LDCs to achieve a sustainable graduation. By saying so, it is regrettable that we failed to reach consensus on this important proposal at MC12.
The recent shocks have made the transitional period for graduated LDCs more relevant. LDCs have been hit hard by trade downturn triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The persistent food and energy crisis resulting from the global geopolitical situation have also reversed much of the development progress achieved so far by LDCs.
China supports the smooth transition for graduated LDCs. China has been granting preference to graduated LDCs in the transitional period since 2013. In December 2021, China announced to apply duty free to 98% of all tarrif lines originating from the LDCs that have established diplomatic relations with China.
This topic has been on the agenda for a long time. I am not going to repeat the points we made in the previous meetings. I just want to thank the LDC group for revising the proposal, which further shows their flexibility and effort on addressing concerns raised by other members in previous discussions. We urge members to have constructive and proactive engagement with LDCs in the coming discussions with a view to reaching consensus on this important issue as soon as possible.