GENEVA – On December 11, U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization, María L. Pagán, represented the United States in a small group Minister-level meeting convened by the United Arab Emirates in an effort to advance Member’s preparation for the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in February 2024. The agenda of the meeting focused attention on development-related issues, the E-Commerce Work Program, and the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions.
Ambassador Pagán expressed the United States’ desire to work with other Members to understand the specific needs and challenges of individual Members and determine effective, bespoke strategies to assist each Member in meeting their development needs and securing the benefits of implementing the WTO agreements. She also reiterated the long-standing U.S. position that the WTO cannot continue to have economic and manufacturing powerhouses gaming the system by claiming the same development status and flexibilities intended for less-advantaged Members. Drawing the clear connection between development and digital advancements, Ambassador Pagán shared the view that providing predictability about the digital environment by extending the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions is the most concrete step that WTO Members could take to foster a robust digital economy and support digital inclusion, particularly in the developing world. Her full remarks are available on the USTR website.
On December 12-15, Ambassador Pagán and the U.S. delegation participated in the Trade Negotiations Committee and General Council meetings. During the General Council meeting, the United States joined consensus on a number of decisions taken by Members and agreed to forward completed work to the Ministerial Conference.
The U.S. delegation participated in formal and informal meetings of the Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration to advance deliberations on the WTO biannual budget and pension plan reform.
The U.S. delegation participated in an informal meeting of the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) and discussed possible contributions to the draft MC13 ministerial declaration. The delegation also participated in a meeting of the E-Commerce JSI small group, a small group meeting on Technical Barriers to Trade, and five bilateral meetings covering agricultural issues.
On December 11 and 13, the U.S. delegation participated in the Trade Policy Review of Chile. During the review, the United States encouraged the government of Chile to address certain issues concerning protection of intellectual property rights and welcomed opportunities to work with Chile on matters of mutual interest such as trade facilitation, and sustainability and inclusivity in trade.
The U.S. delegation participated in an LDC subcommittee informal meeting to celebrate the graduation of Bhutan from the LDC category. The meeting included presentations from the U.N. Committee on Development Policy and U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs on the process of LDC graduation, including the guardrails in place to ensure countries do not slide back from their economic achievements following graduation from the category. On average, LDC graduation processes have taken over 10 years (with the exception of Botswana) and no country has ever slipped back into LDC status post-graduation, reflecting the success of the process. The delegation participated in an additional 8 development and accessions related bilateral meetings.
The U.S. delegation participated in a series of plenary, small group, and bilateral meetings on dispute settlement reform with WTO Members.
The U.S. delegation comprises Washington- and Geneva-based officials and is supported in its work in Geneva by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and a range of other U.S. agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of the Treasury. The delegation engaged in 45 additional bilateral and plurilateral meetings during the week across a wide range of issues.