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Statement on WTO made by Commerce and Industry Minister

Date : 13 Nov 2014
Location : New Delhi
 

Commitment to Multilateralism

·         India is a strong supporter of the multilateral trading system and is committed to strengthening it and ensuring that the WTO remains a key pillar of the global economic edifice. The WTO is in the best interest of developing countries, especially the poorest, most marginalized ones among them and we are determined to work to strengthen this institution.

·         The principles of non-discrimination, predictability, transparency and, most importantly, the commitment to development underlying the multilateral trading system are too valuable to lose. Plurilateral trading arrangements, among a few, cannot substitute the multilateral system and are also against the spirit of the fundamental WTO principles of transparency and inclusiveness.

Reasons for India’s Stand

·         The Doha Development Agenda which was agreed in the year 2001 is the very first round dedicated to development. The agenda is a fine balance between market access and development issues. 

·         We supported the Bali Package but when subsequent developments belied that hope, India had no option but to seek a course correction. India, therefore, took the stand that till there was an assurance of our concerns being addressed, it would be difficult to join the consensus on the Protocol of Amendment for the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

WTO Rules and Food Security

·         The relationship between international trade and food security has been the subject of debate; so also, the role of WTO rules in enabling and promoting food security.

·         While the relevant WTO rules recognize food security concerns, their primary focus is to liberalise agricultural trade rather than to ensure food security. However, the fact is that some of these rules are proving to be a hindrance to food security efforts.

·         We believe that the rules of the WTO should support the food security efforts of countries “rather than policies having to tiptoe around WTO rules,” as the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food said.

Commitment to the Trade Facilitation Agreement

·         India has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

·         We recognise its value for trade and for that very reason we agreed to it in the larger interest of global trade.

·         However, for developing countries the benefits may not be commensurate with the associated costs.  Implementation of the rest of the Bali Decisions will give some comfort to the developing countries and LDCs, even though most of the non-binding decisions do not hold out the promise of substantial gains for these countries. We will continue to work for the implementation of the Bali Package and the DDA.

Broader Understanding of India’s Position/Resonance in the Developing World

·         While there was much media debate and concerns expressed regarding the impact of India’s stand in the WTO, it has undeniably resonated across the world. Many countries saw merit in what we were asking for. India was never alone or isolated. Others were unfortunately simply not speaking up.

Call to WTO Membership to Take this Forward

·         We are extremely happy that India and the US have successfully resolved their differences relating to the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes in the WTO in a manner that addresses our concerns.

·         This will end the impasse at the WTO and also open the way for implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement. 

·         We are confident that the membership will take the matter forward in the WTO in a constructive spirit. This would be an important contribution by the WTO reflecting its commitment to development.

·         We urge the WTO membership to take this forward in the General Council on behalf of the Ministerial Conference and pave the way to spurring the WTO to more such successes.

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RC

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