World Trade Organization (WTO) and India’s Stand

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From 15 to 19 December the Tenth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization was held in Nairobi, Kenya. At this 20th anniversary of WTO its achievements were recalled during the conference by all members. Let’s have a look on the relationship between WTO and India.

The outcomes of the conference, containing Ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton and issue related to Least Developed Countries (LDCs), had been termed as “National Package”.

These decisions enveloped public stockholding for food security purposes; a Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for developing countries, a commitment to repeal export subsidies for farm exports particularly from the developed countries and measures concerning cotton. Decisions about preferential treatment to LDCs in the field of services was made. Decisions were also made about fixing criteria to determine whether exports from LDCs may benefit from trade preferences.

Don’t Miss: National Food Security Bill

An important issue like the fortune of the Doha round of trade negotiations was also discussed at the conference. Although these negotiations initiated in 2001, it remains unfinished till now.

WTO and India’s Stand

India has made its stand clear by saying that the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) must persist after the Nairobi Conference and any new issue must not be introduced into the WTO agenda an until the DDA has been completed. The DDA was initiated as a development Round to favour a large number of developing countries and LDCs. However, a few developed countries like USA are not in the favour of the continuation of the Doha Round.

India, anticipating that the future of Doha Round is in doubt, asked for and succeed in clinching a reformative Ministerial Decision on Public Stockholding for food security Purposes, honouring both the Bali Ministerial and General Council Decisions. The decision seeks the commitment from the members to engage constructively in getting to a permanent solution to this issue.

In the same manner and spirit, a large group of developing countries has long been demanding a Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for agricultural products. With an intention to ensure that this issue of SSM remains on the agenda of the future discussions in the WTO, India negotiated a Ministerial Decision that recognizes that developing countries will have the right to have resort to an SSM as prescribed in the mandate.

Also Read: Agriculture in India: Challenges with Agricultural Marketing and APMC Act

All countries agreed to the annulment of agricultural export subsidies subject to the protection of special and differential treatment for developing countries such as longer phase-out period for transportation and marketing export subsidies for exporting agricultural products.

Developed countries have agreed, in principle, to eliminate export subsidies immediately except for a few agricultural products. The developing countries will have to do this eliminating thing by 2018. Developing countries are going to keep the flexibility to cover marketing and Transport subsidies for agriculture exports till the end of 2013, and net additional time to curtail such export subsidies.

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