India wants that new issues in the WTO agenda should be taken up only after consensus among the member nations although it is not opposed to informal discussions, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said. The comment assumes significance as developed countries including the US are pushing for inclusion of certain issues like investment facilitation and ecommerce in the WTO agenda, which is being opposed by developing nations like India.
“Whether it is investment (facilitation issue) or anything else, our position is that we have no problem discussing any issue. But if it has to come into the agenda, we are saying that there should be consensus among members,” she told PTI in an interview.
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Before including issues in the WTO agenda, “if they want to discuss a paper which somebody has submitted, I have no issue talking about it”, she said. She added that on investment facilitation and ecommerce, India wants that everybody should be on board.
“On investment issue, I will talk about the paper but investment is something which should be the subject of bilateral agreements and not a part of multilateral body,” she said. Once an issue is included formally in the agenda of WTO meetings, the member countries are expected to take it forward.
There are already important issues pending at the WTO table such as finding a permanent solution for food security purposes and providing protection to poor farmers of the developing countries in case of surge in imports.
Further, Sitharaman said India has also submitted a paper on trade facilitation agreement in services (TFS) and it wants WTO member countries to talk about it. If investment facilitation, which primarily deals with a nation’s policy on attracting foreign investments, gets included in the WTO agenda, it would restrict the space for formulation of domestic norms.
Before the 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Argentina in December, the country wants resolution of these important issues which are on the table.