Explanation of Vote on a Resolution on International Trade and Development

Jesse Walter
Advisor for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 18, 2020


Mr. Chairperson, the United States has had to vote against this resolution now for the fourth year in a row because of problematic language we have previously highlighted that remains 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 our peoples through fair and reciprocal trade. However, we are unable to join consensus on the attempt to prescribe the appropriate characteristics of international systems that are independent of the UN system.

Regarding PP5, OP6, and OP9, the United Nations must respect the independent mandates of other processes and institutions, including trade negotiations, and it is therefore inappropriate for UN Member States to indicate the UN should involve itself in decisions and actions in other forums, including at the World Trade Organization. The UN is not the appropriate venue for these discussions, and there should be no expectation or misconception that the United States would heed recommendations made by the UN on these issues. This includes calls that undermine incentives for innovation, such as technology transfer that is not voluntary and on mutually agreed terms.

In addition, the United States cannot join consensus on the reference to “combat protectionism” in OP7. WTO-consistent trade remedy measures and enforcement actions against unfair and market-distorting trade practices of others are not “protectionist.” We do not advocate protectionism, and we will not support veiled criticisms of our policies.

Regarding unilateral economic, financial or trade measures, the United States believes economic sanctions – as an alternative to the use of force – can be an appropriate, effective, and legitimate response to gross violations of international human rights or violations of other widely accepted norms. Each Member State has the sovereign right to determine how it conducts trade with other countries consistent with its existing international obligations, and that this includes economic, financial, or trade measures such as sanctions.

Finally, regarding 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 today.

Thank you.