With the crucial World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial meeting scheduled in December and a preparatory meeting taking place next month, Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu held detailed discussions on top issues impacting the country at the multilateral forum with the Ministry’s WTO team led by India’s Permanent Representative to the WTO JS Deepak.

“The Minister wanted to be apprised of all key issues being discussed at the WTO that could impact India. Positions on critical areas such as food security and fisheries subsidies need to be taken immediately as the agenda for the Ministerial meeting is already taking shape at the WTO. So, he did not want to lose any time,” a government official told BusinessLine .

Prabhu, who took charge of the Commerce Ministry on Monday, will attend an important mini-ministerial meeting of WTO countries in Morocco next month. India needs to finalise its stand on the issues under discussion at the Morocco meet as the meeting has been planned to arrive at an informal understanding on the pacts to be signed in Buenos Aires.

“The Minister agreed that the issue of getting a permanent solution to the problem of treating subsidies for public stock holding should be the country’s priority. He also believes that the interest of the small fishermen and fisherwomen should be secure while negotiating disciplines in the sector,” the official said.

The Ministry’s WTO team already had four days of intense discussions with the representatives from key Ministries and Departments including Agriculture, Consumer Affairs and IT on the negotiating strategy to be adopted at the Ministerial meet in Buenos Aires in December.

As issues such as food security and public stock holding of food grains, fisheries subsidies and e-commerce are likely to dominate the agenda of the WTO meet, inputs from other Ministries concerned were sought.

“It has been informally decided at the WTO that the tough negotiations have to be conducted prior to the Buenos Aires meet as a Ministerial is not a place to take hard decisions. So, there is a strong probability, that members may push for decisions to be taken at Morocco,” the official said.

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