Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said that India will keep pushing for resolution of long-pending issues at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) such as farm subsidies and food security but would also be open to new issues being addressed.

“We cannot forget the issues that have been put on the table with an agreement of all the countries and those issues need to be taken into account... At the same time, we cannot just forget inclusion of new issues. So, we must find out a proper substantive agenda which will be encompassing all these important elements,” Prabhu said speaking at the conference ‘Strategic Alliance for WTO and Trade Remedies Law and Practice, organised by FICCI and Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan.

India, and a number of other developing countries, have been pushing for a permanent solution to the problem of food procurement subsidies to ensure that members don’t get penalised in case such subsidies over-shoot the existing caps. These countries have been demanding that either the caps on these subsidies be removed or the method for calculating the subsidies be changed and linked to the present market prices.

Several developed countries, such as the US, the EU, Australia and New Zealand, have been making a case for inclusion of issues such as e-commerce, investments and gender in the multilateral agenda. India has so far been opposing these attempts and is not part of the plurilateral groups that have been formed to discuss these issues.

Prabhu said that he had personally met 150 trade ministers from different countries to take a reformed WTO agenda forward. “I am getting a positive response from all concerned including the Director General of WTO in our endeavour to take all countries on-board”, he said.

The Commerce Minister added that expansion of global trade hinged on rules and processes determined by the WTO and unless global trade expanded, national economies will not benefit. It was, therefore, important that all substantive issues that had been agreed to at the launch of the Doha Round in 2001 and other trade rounds as well as new issues that have cropped up are addressed with a sense of urgency, he said.