WTO : Joint Statement Initiative – UPSC GS2

What is the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI)?
  • Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) can be broadly defined as a plurilateral negotiating tool initiated by a group of WTO Members who start negotiations on certain issues without adhering to the rule of consensus decision-making.
  • These negotiations are primarily driven by like-minded developed country Members, although there is also some participation from developing countries.
  • JSI Members seek to tap into opportunities in sectors with limited WTO jurisprudence (i.e., e-commerce, investment).
How Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) evolved?
  • At the 11th Ministerial Conference in December 2017, like-minded groups of members issued joint statements on advancing discussions on e-commerce, multilateral framework on investment facilitation, MSMEs, etc.
  • In 2020, new initiatives were launched on trade and environmental sustainability and on plastics pollution and environmentally sustainable plastics trade.
  • In 2021, members of the Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation concluded negotiations.
Why are India and South Africa against the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI)?
  • India and South Africa fear being arm-twisted into accepting global rules that could escalate domestic policymaking and economic growth.
  • India and South Africa argue that the moratorium imposes significant costs on developing countries as they are unable to benefit from the revenue customs duties would bring.
  • India and South Africa have rightly pointed out that the JSI contravenes the WTO’s consensus-based framework, where every member has a voice and vote regardless of economic standing.
  • India and South Africa’s positioning strikes questions on how to balance the sovereign right of states to shape domestic policy with international obligations that would enable them to reap the benefits of a global trading system.
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