WTO DG meets Goyal, industry heads

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on October 21, 2021

(From left) TV Narendran, President CII and MD, Tata Steel; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, WTO; and Chandrajit Banerjee, Director-General, CII during a meeting in New Delhi   -  Kamal Narang

India insists on balanced, fair deal; DG to meet PM, FM on Friday

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala met Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and industry representatives in New Delhi on Thursday to discuss nuances of the on-going trade negotiations at the WTO and possible compromise areas for a successful outcome at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) next month.

“In their second meeting on Thursday, Goyal and the WTO DG took forward the discussions they had initiated the previous day where the Minister expressed support for MC12 but stressed on the need for fairness and balance,” an official said.

New Delhi has maintained that the negotiating text for agreements in both fisheries and agriculture must take into account proposals made by the country to protect developing countries’ interest and ensure fairness and balance by neutralising special entitlements of some developed nations, a government official told BusinessLine.

“The WTO DG, who is in India for a three-day official visit, met industry representatives from trade bodies such as CII and some technology groups, to get their views on the manufacturing scenario, the global trading order and the forthcoming MC12,” another source privy to the meetings said.

Top industrialists including TV Narendran from Tata Steel, Raghupati Singhania from JK Tyre, Sreekant Somany from Somany Ceramics Ltd, Tulsi Tanti from Suzlon Group, Suchitra Ella from Bharat Biotech International, Vineet Mittal from Avaada Group and Vishesh Chandok from Grant Thornton Bharat were amongst the registered participants for the meeting. The WTO DG is scheduled to call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and meet Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday, the source added.

Key areas

In the two key areas of curbing harmful fisheries subsidies and disciplining farm subsidies, India is seeking not only carve-outs for itself and other developing countries to protect the interest of vulnerable sections of population, it is also proposing disciplines to check the burgeoning subsidies of rich nations, the official said.

For instance, in the on-going fisheries negotiations, “India has said that its proposal seeking a 25 years horizon for the country and other developing nations to continue their subsidy programmes for marginal fishers to help them grow in stature, needed to be part of the negotiating text. At the same time, rich countries engaging in deep sea fishing using highly mechanised ships must do away with their subsidies,” the official said.

Similarly, in the area of agriculture, India has called for dismantling of high subsidy entitlements of several rich members due to which their farmers were allowed to be given subsidies as high as $40,000 per capita while for a country like India the subsidy that was allowed added up to just about $400 per capita, the source said.

India also wants priority to be given to finding a permanent solution for public stock holding that would allow it to provide minimum support price to farmers without worrying about ceiling limits.

“Reaching an agreement on public stock holding is already there in the WTO’s mandate which needs to be respected and given priority,” the official said.

Published on October 21, 2021

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