A G-20 protection standstill

Governments of the G-20 could agree that until at least, say, December 2010 they would pledge:

  • No increases in any MFN applied rate of duty other than for technical adjustments (completion of HS transpositions, for example).
  • No increases in any Customs fees, excise duties applying to imports, consumption taxes applying to imports.
  • No preliminary determinations of anti-dumping duties (and therefore, no new final duties either) or acceptance of new undertakings (if you want to stimulate consumption…).
  • No safeguard action will be renewed, no new safeguard action will be available for more than 3 months
  • No new export subsidies in any form (as defined by the Hong Kong Ministerial declaration).
  • No new buy-local preferences at any level of government for goods or services contracts. Existing Government Procurement Code provisions (including exceptions) apply but Non-Members to be treated as Members (MFN provision).
  • No new export restrictions (measures now in force—mainly security based—may remain in force)

Would this work? Yes, I think so. Should they do it? Yes, absolutely.

Would they sign it? Given that the G-20 includes governments such as India that apparently hold the right to take safeguard action as sacred, and the United States (and Australia) that hold nearly the same view on anti-dumping, and Russia that is not yet a member of the WTO, the question is, at best, open.

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