Second Committee Statement on Agenda Item 17 (d) “Commodities”

Jason Lawrence
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 26, 2019


Thank you, Chair.

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

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 calls upon international financial institutions and other non-UN organizations to take actions that are beyond the scope of what this resolution should properly address.

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, as President Trump stated to the General Assembly on September 25, the United States will act in its sovereign interest, including on trade matters. This means that we do not take our trade policy direction from the United Nations.

It is our view that 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.

The United States is unable to support the blanket call in OP3 to support policy efforts to address trade and market mispricing. We believe 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 8, 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 9, the United States questions 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 also 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 attempts to shape the agenda of the WTO, which is the exclusive responsibility of WTO members. 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, Sendai Declaration, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and climate change language, we refer you to our remarks delivered on November 21. That said, we do not recognize the term “implementation target.” We understand that the targets are “SDG targets.”

We would also like to raise our concerns with the workload of this committee. I think many of us have noticed in this year, where we have resolutions – more than ever before, that our work seems more hectic and rushed. We believe we can improve our ability to consider more thoughtfully our work if we were to address the issue of periodicity and biennialize, and in the case of this resolution, triennialize, resolutions.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.