India has reiterated its commitment for a successful conclusion of the 2001 Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and other issues of interest to developing countries at the World Trade Organization (WTO), and made a fresh pitch for a global agreement on trade facilitation in services.
In a mini-ministerial gathering of trade ministers in Oslo during October 21-22, commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman “highlighted the centrality of the development dimension of the Doha Round and the need to work on the issues and ministerial decisions of special interest for developing countries”. “She underscored the need for prioritising the implementation of Bali and Nairobi ministerial decisions,” the commerce ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
The Doha round of negotiations have remained stalled since 2008, primarily over the issue of huge trade-distorting subsidies being given to farmers by the rich countries. While India and other developing nations want a reaffirmation to conclude the DDA first, developed countries seek to mostly dilute the negotiations and widen the mandate with new issues.
India has also been seeking concrete work plans on a special safeguard mechanism for developing countries to protect their farmers from a spurt in imports, and on a permanent solution to the issue of its official grain procurement and food security in the country, as agreed on in the Bali ministerial.
The two-day meeting was convened with a view to informally discussing various issues relating to the WTO negotiations and also to set the stage for the 11th ministerial conference of the multi-lateral body, to be held in Argentina in December next year.
Sitharaman also highlighted the need for the trade facilitation agreement on services on which India has recently introduced a concept note in the WTO. “This will remove unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden of cross-border supply of services benefiting all members,” the statement said.