Second Committee Statement on Agenda Item 17 (a) “International Trade and Development”

David Messenger
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 26, 2019


Mr. Chairperson, the United States has had to vote against this resolution now for the third 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 of our peoples through free, fair, and reciprocal trade. However, we are unable to join consensus on the UN’s attempt in operative paragraphs to prescribe the appropriate characteristics of international systems that are independent of the UN system.

As we have noted in our Global EoP, the United Nations must respect the independent mandates of other processes and institutions, including trade negotiations, and must not 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 decisions made by the General Assembly 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 of other widely accepted norms and standards. 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 Global EoP delivered on November 21.