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WTO Irritated by Widespread Failures to Report Government Subsidies

By Chuck Muth, President, Citizen Outreach

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) “Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures” (SCM) met for its semi-annual conference on April 27, 2021.

“(The SCM) disciplines the use of subsidies, and it regulates the actions countries can take to counter the effects of subsidies. Under the agreement, a country can use the WTO’s dispute-settlement procedure to seek the withdrawal of the subsidy or the removal of its adverse effects.”

At the meeting, committee chairman Erik Solberg of Norway expressed ongoing irritation with WTO member nations that have not submitted reports “outlining the subsidies they give to their enterprises.”

From the WTO summary of the meeting…

“The chair noted that despite reminders to members to submit their notifications in time, 80 members have still not submitted their 2019 notifications. In addition, 67 members still have not submitted their 2017 subsidy notifications, and 57 have still failed to submit their 2015 notifications.  The chair strongly urged all WTO members to submit their notifications as soon as possible.”

Understandably, it’s difficult – if not impossible – for the SCM to identify which nations may be “cheating” when it comes to government subsidies, including sugar industry subsidies, if those nations refuse to submit their reports on time – if at all.

Two things…

1.)  The widespread failure to submit required reports in timely fashion by so many nations clearly indicates a need for serious WTO reform.

What’s the sense in even having international trade agreements if the parties involved can freely ignore their obligations?

2.)  The current U.S. sugar policy of restricting imports from countries that subsidize their sugar industries needs to remain in place.

If the WTO can’t or won’t protect the interests of American sugar producers, then Congress must.