‘Discourse on WTO reform lacks balance’

Reform agenda being promoted does not address concerns of developing countries, says Wadhawan

May 13, 2019 10:18 pm | Updated 10:47 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The fundamentals of global trade system are being tested through protectionism, says Anup Wadhawan.

The fundamentals of global trade system are being tested through protectionism, says Anup Wadhawan.

The reforms being promoted in the World Trade Organization (WTO) are not in favour of the developing countries, the Ministry of Commerce said on Monday.

Addressing the inaugural session of the WTO ministerial meeting, Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan said the existential challenges to the multilateral rules-based trading system were manifest in a spate of unilateral measures and counter measures, deadlock in key areas of negotiations and the impasse in the appellate body.

“The situation in the WTO has spurred a strong discourse for reforming the WTO, which, unfortunately, is characterised by a complete lack of balance,” a Commerce Ministry statement quoted him as saying at the inaugural session of the meeting.

“The reform agenda being promoted does not address the concerns of the developing countries,” the Commerce Secretary added.

Mr. Wadhawan said that the meeting would provide a chance to reaffirm the resolve to keep development at the centre of the reform agenda.

“The reform initiatives must promote inclusiveness and non-discrimination, build trust and address the inequalities and glaring asymmetries in existing agreements,” Mr. Wadhawan said.

“These asymmetries are against the interest of developing countries including LDCs [least developed countries]. There is a need to work together to put issues of importance for developing countries and their priorities in the reform agenda.”

The fundamentals of the global multilateral trade system were being tested through a tide of protectionism around the world that was vitiating the global economic environment, Mr. Wadhawan said. This was not a situation that boded well for developing countries and LDCs, he added.

“India believes that developing countries need to work together to protect their interests in the WTO negotiations through preservation of the core fundamental principles of the WTO,” he said.

“The two-day meet gives an opportunity to the participating countries of developing a shared WTO reform proposal on issues of priority and interest for developing countries,” Mr. Wadhawan added. The ministerial deliberations will take place on Tuesday.

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