Emerging, poor nations will try for consensus on WTO issues at Delhi meet

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 10, 2019

Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary   -  Bijoy Ghosh

To build a united front at the WTO on key issues facing poorer countries, India has invited representatives from 22 developing and least developed countries (LDCs), including trade ministers from South Africa, Bangladesh and the Caribbean, for a two-day brain-storming session next week.

“It is an effort to bring together developing countries and LDCs on a common platform to share common concerns and work together to address them,” said Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan at a press briefing here on Friday. “Attempts will be made to build consensus on how to move forward on the WTO reforms while preserving the fundamentals of the multilateral trading system enshrined in the WTO.

“The deliberations will aim at getting a direction on how to constructively engage on various issues at the WTO, both institutional and negotiating, in the run-up to the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO to be held in Kazakhstan in June 2020.”

The key topics of discussion at next week’s session will include resolving the impasse facing the body’s dispute settlement process, the challenge posed by many developed countries to the special and differential treatment entitlement of developing countries and the alleged undermining of WTO principles on multilateralism with members going in for plurilateral negotiations in areas such as e-commerce.

“The meeting is being held at a time when the multilateral rule-based trading system is facing serious and grave challenges. There have been increasing unilateral measures and counter measures by members, deadlocks in key areas of negotiations and the impasse in the Appellate Body, which threaten the very existence of Dispute Settlement Mechanism of the WTO and impact the position of the WTO as an effective multilateral organisation,” Wadhawan said.

The 22 participating countries in the two-day Delhi meet on May 13-14 include Argentina, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Egypt, Guatemala, Guyana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey and Uganda.

On the first day, there will be a meeting of senior officers of the participating countries followed by a dinner hosted by Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu for the heads of delegations. On the second day, a ministerial meeting will be held. WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo will also attend the meet on May 14.

India hopes that there will be a Delhi Declaration at the end of the meeting laying down a consensus-driven plan on how to tackle various WTO issues.

Published on May 10, 2019

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