In a glaring omission, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) draft declaration for the ministerial meeting in Nairobi in December did not mention finding a permanent solution to India’s concerns on food security, but has promised to “address all aspects of agriculture reform as a matter of priority”.
The failure of the WTO membership to reach an agreement on most issues that were part of the Doha work programme was taken note of. The draft also raised concerns about the rush of regional trade agreements (RTAs). “We welcome the advances made in the Doha Development Agenda. We regret that it has not been possible to reach agreement on all areas of the negotiations, including agriculture, non-agriculture market access (NAMA), services, rules, including fisheries subsidies, and TRIPS. In particular, we note the importance of agriculture to many WTO members, including LDCs (least developed countries). We will therefore address all aspects of agriculture reform as a matter of priority,” the five-page document said. It was released to WTO members on November 27.
Focusing on the RTAs, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and RCEP, the draft said the agreements remained complementary and not a substitute for the multilateral trading system.
The government has not given any official reaction to the draft declaration, which has kept the issue of new agenda items open, including some contentious areas such as the link between trade and climate, currency and the global value chain. India is not comfortable with the some of the issues related to these areas where it has raised objections. India believes that some of them don’t belong to WTO.
WTO chief Roberto Azevedo said that the draft has sought to touch upon the less contentious issues. “Of course, we also need to tackle the most contentious issues such as the reaffirmation of the Doha Development Agenda and instructions on the way forward, and openness to talking about new issues. I will set up a different process to deal with those tough, contentious issues, and we will be starting this process after the General Council is finished next week,” he said in a statement.
India has been focusing on food security, which has been a major issue of contention between the developed and developing countries.
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