India rejects rich world’s attempt to create divisions

India will oppose the developed world’s attempts to ask developing countries with relatively higher growth to commit to greater and faster market access during next week’s WTO talks.

The world’s rich countries, including the U.S., have put forth an argument of a 'differentiated' treatment, where higher growth countries such as India and China can be categorised differently from the other developing countries, with an aim to create divisions among the developing world, sources familiar with the talks said.

The WTO mandates special and differential treatment (S&DT) to developing countries, which among other things, accords longer time periods for implementing WTO agreements and commitments in addition to provisions safeguarding their trade interests.

However, the developed countries do not want China and India to get the S&DT benefits due to their higher growth rates when compared to the rest of the developing world.

WTO does not define what constitutes a 'developing' or 'developed' country, and allows its members to apply the principle of 'self-election' to decide for themselves if they have to be categorised as a 'developing' country.

Other members can question a member on its decision to term itself as a 'developing' country to take advantage of the S&DT benefits.

The WTO, however, recognises least developed countries as designated by the United Nations.

India will cite its low GDP per capita ($1596 versus $7594 of China and $54,630 of the US) and high levels of poverty (a quarter of the India population, or about 300 million people -- which is close to the entire population of the US, who still live on around $1 a day) to defeat attempts to categorise it differently from other developing countries, the sources said.

Another item that is high on India's WTO agenda is to ensure that the developed countries substantially reduce their trade distorting subsidies, they said.

Commerce Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, and Commerce Secretary, Rita Teaotia, had, during their recent media briefings, said that India cannot be treated differently from other developing countries as there are many areas within the country with very low growth rates and high poverty levels.

This fact will be reinforced at the Nairobi meet, the sources said.

The developed world, in return for contributions to make the ongoing Doha Round negotiations of the WTO successful, wants major emerging markets such as India and China to make additional contributions and significantly higher commitments.

The Doha Round talks, which began in 2001, has missed several deadlines owing to persisting differences between the developed and the developing world on market opening commitments.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 10:56:41 AM |

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