India has asked WTO members to complete discussions on issues related to the Doha Round before taking up new issues and also set timelines for working out the permanent solution for food security purposes.
Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during an informal meeting of about 25 WTO members yesterday in Paris also emphasised on working on trade facilitation in services including Mode 4 (movement of professionals).
About 25 key trade ministers have met on the sidelines of an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris.
India “emphasised on setting timelines for working on SSM (special safeguard mechanism) and permanent solution on public stock holding of food grains”, Sitharaman said in series of tweets.
India is pitching for SSM, which aims at protecting poor and marginal farmers from any surge in imports or steep decline in prices.
She has also emphasised on working on a trade facilitation in services including Mode 4, a proposal which was welcomed by WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo.
The minister “reiterated taking up of remaining DDA (Doha Development Agenda) issues including agriculture before taking up of new issues at the WTO”.
The new issues which are being pushed by developed world include investments, competition, labour, government procurement, environment and global value chains.
She also called for implementation of Bali and Nairobi ministerial decisions.
“Most member countries agreed with (Sitharaman’s) view of maintaining the centrality of development dimension in WTO. For achieving convergence, Sitharaman suggested special and differential carve outs for developing countries be allowed,” the tweets said.
She said that these issues could lay the foundation for the outcomes of 11th WTO Ministerial Conference.
For a permanent solution, India had proposed either amending the formula to calculate the food subsidy cap of 10 per cent, which is based on the reference price of 1986-88, or allowing such schemes outside the purview of subsidy caps.
The Doha Round of negotiations launched in 2001 has remained stalled since July 2008 due to differences between the rich and the developing nations, mainly over the subsidies given to farmers.
Meanwhile in a statement, the WTO chief has asked the key trade ministers including from India to involve directly and meet regularly to reach the agreements agreed upon by the member countries.
“Ministers need to be involved directly or agreements will not be reached. You need to meet often, be engaged and be active,” he has said.