WTO’s Nairobi meet: India not to make binding commitments on new issues

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on December 07, 2015

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has reiterated thegovernment’s commitment for a safeguard package for protectingfarmers   -  Business Line

New Delhi wants decisions taken at Bali Ministerial implemented, says Nirmala Sitharaman

India will not take on binding commitments in new areas such as labour, environment or investments that developed countries may try to introduce at the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) ministerial meet in Nairobi later this month, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said.

“The discussion part on new issues is fine with us, but we will certainly not take binding commitments in new areas,” said Sitharaman addressing media persons here on Monday.

The Minister said that while many things might have changed since 2001 when the Doha Development Round was launched, what India wanted was an implementation of the decisions taken at the ministerial meet in Bali, which took place two years ago.

“Today, I don’t see a work plan on any element of the Doha Development Agenda. We want a work programme on all that was agreed upon in Bali,” she said.

Protecting farmers

A prominent issue flowing from the Bali meet is finding a permanent solution to the problem of treating food procurement subsidies given by developing countries such as India so that these do not get treated as actionable subsidies.

New Delhi, together with the G-33 group of developing countries, is also pushing for a special safeguard mechanism (SSM) that will allow it to increase farm tariffs to protect poor farmers against import surges or plummeting prices.

“Many developed countries had already negotiated special safeguards for themselves when the pact on agriculture was being finalised. We want a similar safeguard to protect our farmers which would bring about some balance in the agreement,” she said.

Trade ministers from 161 member countries of the WTO will meet in Nairobi on December 15-18 to decide on how to go forward with the on-going Doha Round. While several developed countries including the US and the EU have hinted at discontinuation of the Doha Round, more than 100 members, including India, are pressing for its continuation.

New Delhi is also supporting a package for Least Developed Countries that would have specific provisions to boost their exports by giving them greater market access and lowering of developed country subsidies on items such as cotton.

Published on December 07, 2015
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