Explanation of Vote following the Adoption of the UNGA72 Second Committee Resolution on Commodities

Jay M. Kimmel
Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
November 30, 2017


Thank you, Chair.

We regret that we cannot join consensus on this text and would like to highlight our concerns.

As in previous years, we must express our concerns over portions of this resolution which make obsolete references to the world financial and economic crisis, attribute supposed negative impacts on economic and social development to vague and sweeping references to some trade practices and trade barriers, and inappropriately call upon international financial institutions and other non-UN organizations to take actions that are beyond the scope of what this resolution should properly address.

Regarding PP9, the United States recognizes that governments wish to pursue policies that contribute to the food security of their population. We believe strongly that, to be successful, those policies must be consistent with relevant international rules and obligations. The United States has consistently supported many important goals of the African Union Agenda 2063, most recently at the U.S.-AU High Level Dialogue held on Nov. 16, 2017 in Washington, and notes that the Agenda includes goals such as improving access to and the quality of education, investing in infrastructure, protecting the environment, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and many other worthy initiatives shared both by Africa and the United States. We are concerned, however, by language committing to reducing food imports which could have a negative impact on food security and may not be consistent with trade obligations of African Members of the WTO, and we hope to hold further discussions with the AU on this issue.

The United States is unable to support calls in PP15 and PP20 for regulatory measures to address price volatility or measures that would attempt to regulate commodity markets, to the extent that such calls open the door to protectionist trade barriers and subsidies. That said, the United States supports a call for improved access to market information to aid in good governance and better policy.

The United States is also unable to support the blanket call in OP3 to support policy efforts to address trade and market mispricing. We believe that the underlying supply and demand factors can provide effective pricing determination in markets. Such policy efforts can be inappropriately aimed at national governmental authorities artificially setting prices, a market-distorting protectionist barrier. Any such efforts must be consistent with international rules and obligations.

In OP 5, the United States cannot support blaming tariffs and WTO-consistent non-tariff measures for impeding the economic diversification of certain countries. In addition, any list of factors should include the effects of exchange rates and unfavorable business environments for commerce and investment.

In OP 8, the United States is confused by the reference to “excessive price volatility.” The term is not defined, and therefore Members should not be asked to support a call to address it. Further, we note that policies aimed at facilitating value addition should be consistent with relevant international rules and obligations.

The United States is unable to join consensus on language that speaks to ongoing or future work at the WTO, that reinterprets WTO agreements or decisions, or that undermines the mandate of the WTO, which is an independent organization with a different membership, mandate, and rules of procedure. Consistent with that policy, the United States cannot accept OPs 15, 16, and 22. OP 15 attempts to shape the agenda of the WTO, which is the exclusive responsibility of WTO members. OP 16 inaccurately reflects the state of the Doha Development Round negotiations; WTO Members at MC10 did not reaffirm the Doha Round and are no longer negotiating under its framework. We will not accept the UN calling on certain countries to provide market access. The UN has no voice on this matter. Further, the United States cannot accept the language in OP 22, which inappropriately elevates the WTO accession processes of commodity-dependent developing countries over those of other applicants. It is not appropriate for the UN to opine on the process to accede to an independent organization.

In addition, while the United States is active in the Aid for Trade Initiative and supports it, the UN should not opine on the priorities of the WTO Aid for Trade Initiative. Its priorities are set by WTO Members.

With regard to this resolution’s references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, we addressed our concerns in a General Statement delivered on November 17. That said, we do not recognize the term “implementation target.” We understand that the targets are “SDG targets.”

Thank you.