Explanation of Vote for the Adoption of the International Trade and Development Resolution

David Messenger
Adviser to ECOSOC
New York, New York
November 22, 2021


The United States regrets that we must vote against this resolution for the fifth year in a row due to language from previous iterations that remains unchanged in this year’s resolution.

The United States enjoys strong and growing trade relationships across the globe. We welcome efforts to bolster those relationships, increase economic cooperation, and drive prosperity to all people through fair and reciprocal trade. However, we are unable to join consensus on language that attempts to prescribe the appropriate characteristics of trade and international systems that are independent of the United Nations.

We underscore our position that trade language, negotiated or adopted by the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council or under their auspices, has no relevance for U.S. trade policy, for our trade obligations or commitments, or for the agenda at the WTO, including discussions or negotiations in that forum. Language extending beyond the UN’s mandate and into the mandates of independent entities such as the World Trade Organization is found in multiple paragraphs, including PP5, OP5, OP6, OP7, OP8, OP10, and OP11. The United States considers such language to be ultra vires and non-binding.

Regarding OP9, economic sanctions are an appropriate, effective, and legitimate tool that can be used to achieve national security and foreign policy objectives. In cases where the United States has applied sanctions, we have done so with specific objectives in mind, including as a means to promote a return to rule of law, democratic systems, or human rights and fundamental freedoms, or to respond to threats to international security.

Consistent with our position in 2020, the United States cannot join consensus on the reference to “combat protectionism” in OP7, which we interpret as a veiled and inappropriate reference to the use of WTO-consistent trade remedy measures and enforcement actions against unfair and market-distorting trade practices of others.

Finally, regarding our complete position on the WTO, as well as our position with respect to the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and inclusive economic growth, we refer you to our General Statement delivered on November 18. Thank you.