India holds firm at WTO meet

Puja Mehra Nusa Dua (Bali) | Updated on March 13, 2018 Published on December 04, 2013

As was expected, on Day Two of the Ninth World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial, a deal at Bali seemed out of reach with India favouring failure of the summit over a compromise.

Addressing the Plenary, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma not only stated that India cannot accept the due restraint provision in its current form but also that “we consider it premature to lend support to an inconclusive trade facilitation agreement.”

US Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman said at the Plenary that at this moment success at Bali cannot be taken for granted. EU Trade Commissioner Karel DeGucht, warned that “the storm clouds of failure are right above us”. Decisions cannot be taken at the WTO without consensus among all countries.

India’s outright rejection of both the contentious clauses of the proposed “Bali Package”, said official sources, is expected to open up room for further negotiations with the US-led rich countries that are pushing for the trade facilitation proposal and along with host Indonesia and WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo are keen on a package from Bali. A failure at Bali will deal a debilitating blow to the WTO as a multilateral negotiating forum, said Froman in his Plenary address.

The USTR and India remained in touch all the day through their interlocutors and are expected to hold talks on Thursday.

Both sides stuck to their ground. However, Indian negotiators said that in the bilateral and group meetings there was resonance on India’s position on the food security issue amongst countries such as Brazil, South Africa, Jamaica, Nepal, Nigeria, Egypt, Brazil, Uganda, Cuba, South Africa, Namibia, Bolivia, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Venezuela, Mauritius, Kenya and Nicaragua.

Azevedo held consultations first with all members and then in smaller groups to try to find a solution. At one such meeting, an African diplomat told Business Line that more than 20 African countries expressed the view that since Food Security is an issue for them too, though of a different nature than for India, “if we allow a developing country like India to be isolated on an issue such as food security then what will happen to us?”

Published on December 04, 2013
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