CONSULTATIONS WITH STATE GOVERNMENTS ON WTO ISSUES HELD
Date : 19 Mar 2001
Location : New Delhi
The government has underlined its intention to continue the process of holding detailed consultations with the State governments while formulating India's strategies in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations. Addressing the one-day Workshop on "WTO issues for States" organised jointly by the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) here today, the Commerce Secretary, Shri Prabir Sengupta, pointed out that an extensive consultation process involving consultations with the State governments, political parties, farmers' representatives, universities and other experts had earlier preceded the submission of India's proposals in the ongoing negotiations under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. The government had undertaken extensive consultations with all stakeholders and India's negotiating proposals were prepared in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution based on the feedback and inputs received during these consultations, Shri Sengupta said, adding that the aim was to work towards introducing greater equity and balance in the Agreement on Agriculture and dismantling the trade-distorting measures, while at the same time ensuring fulfilment of the twin objectives of domestic food and livelihood security for developing countries. The mandated negotiations on agriculture had commenced in the WTO in January 2000. Referring to negotiations in the area of services, Shri Sengupta mentioned that two proposals -- one on the negotiating guidelines (jointly with 22 countries) and another one on India's suggestions for liberalising the movement of natural persons had been submitted by India to the WTO.
The Workshop gave an opportunity to participants from State Governments to deliberate on various issues on which the government is presently engaged in the WTO and to give their inputs on how to manage the cost of implementing the existing WTO agreements and learning how to minimise that cost. Shri Sengupta also outlined the series of measures already taken by the government to raise tariff bindings on a large number of agro items as well as the government's initiative for extensive monitoring of imports for items on which QRs had earlier been removed. Emphasising the need to strengthen the WTO-related mechanism in the States, Shri Sengupta informed that the Department of Commerce had nominated Shri R. P. Agrawal, Joint Secretary as the Nodal Officer for this purpose and requested the States to interact with him on WTO issues. He also urged the state government to create WTO Cells and to nominate nodal officers with whom the central government could interact from time to time. He invited the state governments to make full use of the Website of the Department of Commerce to spread awareness of WTO related issues. Shri Nripendra Misra, Special Secretary, Department of commerce and representatives from various State governments and Union territories attended the Workshop.
Earlier, Shri K. Dharmarajan, Director General, IIFT, said that managing to take advantage of the opportunities thrown up by the liberalisation had to be essentially a collective endeavour of both Central and the State Governments. The Workshop was organised to discuss these issues and to promote greater awareness among State Governments about WTO-related issues of concern to the states.