MAJOR GAINS FOR INDIA AT DOHA MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE
Date : 15 Nov 2001
Location : New Delhi
India has made significant gains at the Doha Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with the Ministerial Declaration launching a work programme which takes on board India's concerns in the key areas of Agriculture, Implementation, TRIPs, Trade & Transfer of Technology and WTO Rules. India has also succeeded in warding off any commitments for negotiations in the important areas of Investment, Competition Policy and Transparency in Government Procurement. This has been made possible through extremely hard bargaining on India's part during the Doha Ministerial Conference.
The development dimension of agriculture has received focussed attention with additional flexibility being given for providing domestic support and protection from imports on grounds of food security and rural development. Special & Differential Treatment for the developing countries in all the three areas of agriculture viz., market access, domestic support and export competition will now be an integral part of the negotiations on agriculture to enable the developing countries to take care of their development concerns. A commitment for phase-out of export subsidies by the developed countries has been secured in the Declaration. This would facilitate the Indian farmers' access to global markets by making Indian agriculture globally more competitive. There is also a commitment for substantial reduction in domestic subsidies and tariff levels maintained by the developing countries which have been causing distortions and protectionism in the world agricultural trade.
India's concerns relating to implementation of the existing WTO Agreements especially in the areas of textiles & clothing, agriculture, SPS (Sanitary & Phytosanitary) measures, subsidies & countervailing measures and anti-dumping are reflected in the Decision on Implementation-related issues and concerns adopted by the Doha Ministerial Conference. It has been agreed that negotiations on outstanding implementation issues will be an integral part of the work programme being established and will be addressed on priority basis by the relevant WTO bodies.
In the area of TRIPs, it has been decided that protection of traditional knowledge and the relationship between the TRIPs agreement and the convention on Biodiversity would be pursued in the work programme of the TRIPs Council. This is in line with our concern about the need for preventing bio-piracy and ensuring protection of the traditional knowledge of developing countries including India. Concerns relating to public health and access to medicines have already been addressed in the Declaration on the TRIPs Agreement and Public Health adopted by the Ministerial Conference which is a major achievement. The Declaration on TRIPs Agreement and Public Health has affirmed the Members' right to interpret and implement TRIPs in a manner supportive of the need to protect public health and to ensure access to medicines for all.
Further, it has been reaffirmed that provisions for special & differential treatment would be an integral part of the WTO Agreements, taking into account the specific constraints faced by the developing countries, including the least developed countries, regarding operation of the WTO agreements.
In order to increase the flows of technology to developing counties, a Working Group under the General Council of WTO will examine the relationship between trade and transfer of technology and the steps required in this regard. There are also firm commitments on technical cooperation and capacity building in the Ministerial Declaration in recognition of their importance as core elements in the development dimension of the multilateral trading system.