Saturday, June 9, 2012

Aid, trade and WTO disputes

I had recently blogged about the issue of linking aid and trade disputes in the context of Mexico's challenge of the dolphin safe tuna labelling of the US here. I had felt:
"Is the suggestion of reconsidering economic assistance if Mexico persist with its WTO action indicating the political economy of trade? While the WTO rule based dispute settlement open to all member countries for disputes concerning alleged violation of obligations under the WTO agreements, is the political economy of aid stronger? Would it be right for a country receiving aid from another country to initiate a WTO dispute against it? If it is not right, then many countries in the developing world cannot initiate WTO disputes against their aid donors. Should the two issues be linked at all? While the WTO dispute settlement mechanism is a rule based system based on rights and obligations and not "power based" relations, in reality, is there a larger political economy of trading power, aid, foreign relations, economic influence that determine compliance and non-compliance of WTO disputes."
CATO Institute in a blog piece titled "Protectionist Denial and Bribery" seemed to have a somewhat similar view on the issue:
"The most revealing part of the letter, however, is in the last paragraph when the representatives ask the President to bribe the Mexican government to go away.
"If the Mexican government continues to pursue WTO action in this case, we ask that your administration reconsider the level of economic assistance Mexico receives from U.S. taxpayers."
This doesn’t seem very respectful of a dispute settlement process the U.S. has used on numerous occasions to challenge WTO-inconsistent measures like Europe’s aircraft subsidies, Korea’s beef restrictions, India’s chicken restrictions, China’s export quotas, China’s duties on chicken parts, China’s duties on steel, and China’s green energy subsidies, to name a few recent examples.  Criticizing the WTO judicial process as overreaching because it revealed the inadequacies of a favored piece of protectionist legislation and then threatening to abuse the process through petty sanctions does nothing to enable consumers to protect dolphins and makes it more difficult for the United States to mount effective challenges to foreign protectionism."
Some food for thought on issues relating to aid, trade and WTO disputes? 

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