Tuesday, 24 November 2009

More Chinese and fewer Indians in the Secretariat?

It has been reported that India and China jointly sponsored a proposal in the WTO advocating more representation of staff members from developing countries in the WTO Secretariat. While it is understandable that China would want more of its citizens on the Secretariat, it is puzzling that India would support the move.

According to the WTO, out of the total of 629 members of the Secretariat, only 5 are from China, while 12 are from India. In other words, it's less than 1% for China, while about 2% for India. In 2009, China contributed to 5.898% of the WTO's budget, while India's share is only 1.243%. This seems to indicated that India is already over-represented while China is under-represented. If we look at the world trade shares, again the picture is largely the same.

Thus, if India were really serious about its support for China, the first thing it should have done would be asking half of its citizen's on the Secretariat's payroll to resign and give the seats to those from China. 

The only logical explanation seems to be that the claim is based on neither the real trade share or the contribution to the budget. Instead, there are three possibilities:
1. population: but this is rather unlikely. Otherwise, one third of the Secretariat staff members should be either Indian or Chinese;
2. real-world trade share multiplied by different co-efficients for developed and developing countries: but whatever co-efficient we are using, I think it is reasonable to assume that China and India will have the same co-efficient. Thus the net result would still be a very large share for China (assuming, for the purpose of argument, that we multiply developing countries' trade share by 2, this would mean China getting 12% of the seats in the Secretariat, or about 75 people, which would mean that there are at least 3 Chinese in each of the functional divisions excluding the Language Services & Documentation Division - as Chinese is yet an official language in the WTO, it is unlikely that they will work in this devision)
3. Some non-trade-related criterion: however, given that the WTO is a trade body, what is the legitimacy of using non-trade criterion to determine the composition of the Secretariat?

Having excluded all three possibilities, I'm lost. Can anyone enlighten me on this issue?

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