(Download our PDF version of our newsletter: Trading Room)
This Tuesday US President Trump “threaten” to pull out of the WTO and called again on the WTO reform regarding the “developing-country” status during a rally in Pennsylvania. The context of the “threat” was done when President Trump mentioned that before his tenure the US was losing all their disputes at the WTO, a statement that it is not true. In his speech, he mentioned that
“China, India, many countries…they viewed them as “they’re growing”.[…] Well, they’ve grown. And they had tremendous advantages. But we’re not letting that happen anymore.[…]”
This is in line with the US Presidential memorandum dated 26 of July that requested the USTR to address this issue at the WTO, among other matters, and to inform progress in 60 days, i.e. September. If there is no substantial progress in 90 days, the USTR may stop considering a Member as a developing country as well as not support any such country’s membership in the OECD. This move targets countries like China, India, and Turkey (Mexico was also mentioned in the Presidential Memorandum); so, will there be consensus in reforming the “developing-country” status in the WTO? We consider it unlikely.
A WTO member may self-declare if it is a “developing country” since there is no definition in the WTO agreement. Being a developing country provides some additional rights than those members that are “developed”.
For instance, the “Enabling Clause”, adopted since the GATT framework, allows a WTO member to circumvent unilaterally and legally the Most Favored Nation obligation through a “Generalized System of Preferences” (GSP). A developed Member may grant preferential tariffs to certain goods from developing WTO members that they determine; in fact, the US recently removed India and Turkey from their GSP.
Another right that developing members enjoy is that they may take longer time periods for implementing agreements and commitments, a situation that occurred with the implementation of the Facilitation Trade Agreement. Mexico has self-declared itself as a developing country.
This Monday was published the interview conducted by the CEO of Best Lawyers, Phillip Greer, to our managing partner, Adrián Vázquez Benítez, in the guide Best Lawyers. Adrian shared his vision on the future of international trade, especially its impact on Mexico, and we highlight the following points:
Adrián Vázquez considered that there are two problems that impact Mexico and may affect international trade these days: trade facilitation and the WTO crisis. On the one hand, our partner pointed out that Mexico was in the process of reforming and even creating a new Customs Law in order to make it compatible with the Facilitation Trade Agreement of the WTO; on the other hand, due to the paralysis on the appointment of appellate body members, the effectiveness of the dispute settlement mechanism system is at risk as well as compliance with WTO law by its members.
Referring to regional integration, our partner commented that the rules of origin in USMCA, which now provide for a higher percentage of regional content, for example, in the automotive industry, leading automotive firms will have to make an effort to comply with the new rules.
About TMEC, our partner emphasized the close commercial relationship and dependence that our country has with the US, but that it is necessary for Mexico to diversify its market through the use of FTAs such as TIPAT, despite the geographical location of its members. In this regard, he warned that Vietnam, a party to CTPP, could become China’s replacement regarding trade remedies in Mexico, as Vietnam has powerful steel, footwear, and textiles industries.
We invite you to read the full interview in the following link: