India needs more trade lawyers to fight protectionism: Teaotia

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018


India needs to build a bigger pool of international trade lawyers to keep a close watch on restrictive measures being adopted by other countries and take timely action wherever required, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia has said.

With the slowdown in global trade, there is higher protectionism worldwide and increasing use of trade remedies, Teaotia pointed out at a conference on WTO dispute settlement organised on Monday by the Centre for WTO Studies.

The Commerce Secretary said while India had the required legal professionals to look at actions that are obviously affecting the country’s interest at the WTO, it needs to build on its capacity to stay more vigilant. “We need greater capacity for comprehensive routine examination of trade measures of other countries. We do let many of the smaller measures that affect our trade interest go completely unchallenged,” she said.

India is also concerned about efforts by some countries to include disputes at the World Trade Organisation on issues that do not fall within the realm of trade such as environment.

“This is a great challenge for developing countries and affects freedom of trade,” Teaotia said, adding that there was a need to build domestic capacities in international trade laws.

Over the years, a number of members have tried to impose trade restrictions based on environmental concerns, such as EU’s restriction on seal products and the US legislation on import of shrimp turtle, and tried to justify them at the WTO.

The secretary said there is a need to work with law schools within India to deepen the specific courses and to increase the interest of the younger generation of the legal fraternity in trade laws.

“I believe that cost (to contest cases in WTO) is also one of the reason why developing countries are not utilising this (dispute) mechanism,” she added.

Published on May 02, 2016

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