WTO must rein in nations violating trade rules: Goyal

November 19, 2021 12:00 am | Updated 06:40 am IST

“Theworld today has to reassess whether countries across the world are truly and genuinely following the multilateralrules in terms of transparency, fair play and honest business practices,” the Minister noted and stressedthat the WTO should reassess the wayit has been conducting its affairs.India, in contrast, was “proud of following the rules to a T” with everything done transparently in the public domain, he said.

“... So much so that our system allows for anyone to pay just Rs. 10 to take out any file from the government system [as] our Right to Information laws are so strong,” Mr. Goyal added.

Mr. Goyal was responding to a query from New Zealand’sHigh Commissioner to India David Pyne on the changes needed in the global trade rules regime.

He said New Zealand wanted India to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) but it was an “agreement between two unequals”.

“We are looking at a transparent, honest trading system in India and entering into an agreement with certain geographies that don’t share information, don’t give market access to everybody equitably and openly, where there are hidden subsidies about which I never get to act because I don’t have the information, where youask for data but you never get the data,” Mr. Goyal said alluding to China, a key member of the RCEP.

“Our pharma industry has been trying for four years but not getting market access. And here, in India, we open up 100% automatic approval, anybody can come invest and buy our companies,” he observed at the Global Economic summit hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

While reforming the WTO was critical to check such countries’ flagrant violation of trade rules, any talk about these changes triggered the developed world into “immediately” seeking reforms related to whether Special and Differential Treatment trade benefits for the less developed and developing countries should continue.

Differentiated treatment

“I think it is so unfair. I can understand a discussion on which countries should be considered developing and which should now be considered developed.But to deprive countries of differentiated treatment in their business practices when they are at levels of $1000, $600 to $3,000 per capita income, and putting them on the same benchmark as a country that makes $60,000$ or $80,000 per capita, is grossly unfair,”he asserted and urged the developed world to “look at their priorities”.

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