The US must review its position and engage with the global community to design an effective dispute settlement mechanism
US President Donald Trump has accused developing countries, particularly China and India, of unfairly benefitting from their “developing country" status under the World Trade Organization (WTO) regime which permits such countries special and differential treatment (or SDT in WTO parlance). This lets developing countries, including the two Asian nations, adhere to less onerous norms such as longer periods of compliance, without violating the WTO rulebook. Other than where it is spelt out clearly, similar leeway could also be enjoyed on permissible “best endeavour" grounds. On the other hand, paradoxically, the US and other rich countries have always enjoyed enforceable SDTs in the agreements on textiles and clothing, and also agriculture. It took 10 years for the agreement on textiles—which allotted export quotas to developing countries—to come to an end in 2005. However, subsidies given in the West to rich farmers continue to operate unabashedly. Strikingly, this means that every cow in the West gets a dollar per day as subsidy, while the poor in India are just about earning a dollar per day.
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