After submitting a concept note on a trade facilitation agreement (TFA) on services at the World Trade Organization (WTO), India is planning to firm up strategy for the next course of action across key issues at the multilateral body.
Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman has convened a meeting of senior officials of her ministry as well as those posted at the WTO headquarters in Geneva later this month, the minister said. The idea is to not just take stock of steps already taken by the country at the WTO but also to prepare a road map for the post-Nairobi ministerial world order.
Already, in a mini-ministerial gathering of trade ministers in Oslo on October 21-22, Sitharaman reiterated the country’s commitment for a successful conclusion of the 2001 Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and other issues of interest to developing countries, apart from making a fresh pitch for the TFS on services. The minister had also “underscored the need for prioritising the implementation of Bali and Nairobi Ministerial decisions”. All these issues, among others, are expected to come up for discussion in the meeting later this month.
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. The fundamental objective of the DDA was to improve trading prospects for developing nations. 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, including e-commerce and global value chain.
India has also been seeking concrete work plans on a special safeguard mechanism (SSM) 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.
Inputs for FTP review sought from exporters
The commerce ministry has asked exporters to submit inputs for the mid-term review of the foreign trade policy (FTP) for 2015-20, Sitharaman said. The exercise is expected to be over by September. The current government unveiled its first FTP in April 2015, targeting to double exports of goods and services to $900 billion by 2020.