'Bali declaration is the stepping stone to the completion of Doha Round'

Just before noon on Saturday, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministers at Bali finally adopted the historic five-draft decision declaration and the 10-document full Bali package that addresses the Doha Development Agenda.

“We have put the world back into the WTO,’’ Director-General of WTO Roberto Azevedo said at the closing ceremony after the adoption. “First time in our history, the WTO has truly delivered.’’

He quoted Nelson Mandela: “It seems impossible till it is done.’’

There had been apprehensions that if Bali package did not come through the Doha Round and with it, the WTO will become lifeless.

Doha development round

Post-Bali, the negotiators in Geneva will now focus on the long-stalled issues of the Doha Development Round in a work programme they committed to complete within 12 months: “The Bali declaration is the stepping stone to the completion of the Doha Round,’’ said Azevedo.

At the opening of the Ministerial on Tuesday, the Director-General had challenged the delegates to side-step politics to make Bali meet a success and at the closing on Saturday, he said that they did show the political will to go across the finish line.

Food security and trade facilitation

The declaration is as India had wanted. It takes care of all of India's concerns on both Food Security and Trade Facilitation.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma told reporters after the declaration was adopted: “It’s a happy coincidence that the Doha Round, the only development agenda, has been revived and re-energised in Bali and India could play a major role here as it had been lying moribund till 2008 and then in 2009, I had in a meeting in Bali discussed with US Trade Representative Michael Froman and the then Indonesian Trade Minister Mary Pengitsu the urgent need to revive the Doha Round.”

“The WTO has come alive and we saw it as it should be: negotiating, dynamic, working hard to get an agreement and innnovative solutions, willing to engage and compromise, seeking common ground and inclusive — something we have not seen in a long time,” said Azevedo.

Chair of the ninth ministerial and Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirajwan said at the closing ceremony: “We focused on national interests and common good, we upheld the right of the developing countries to give food security to billions of the world’s poorest people and through trade facilitation opened up the potential of injecting up $1 trillion into the global economy and so we have the energy and confidence to conclude Doha”.

(This article was published on December 7, 2013)
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