India has proposed to host an informal gathering of ministers of the members of World Trade Organization (WTO) in May to discuss the interests of least developed countries and developing countries in global trade rules amid the US accusing emerging economies of benefitting from exemptions meant for poor nations.
India, which hosted a similar meeting last year, has already teamed up with China, South Africa and Venezuela to counter the US allegations and highlighted the glaring asymmetries through which the US has benefited.
“At last year’s mini ministerial, we had portrayed our right to market access globally. We have proposed to organise another ministerial in Delhi in May to ensure to take this idea forward,” said commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu at the CII- EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership.
India had organised the informal gathering last year in the wake of talks collapsing at the Buenos Aires ministerial conference in December 2017. This year’s mini-ministerial meeting comes as developing countries fight to safeguard their eligibility to get Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT) at the WTO.
WTO allows special provisions for developing countries called S&DT, such as longer time periods to implement agreements and commitments, measures to increase trading opportunities, provisions to safeguard their trade interests and support to build capacity to handle disputes and implement technical standards.
Emphasising that certain countries have “immensely benefited” from Africa and India opening up their markets to global commerce, Prabhu said: “We allowed them to use our populations as markets. Now when we can benefit from it, some countries are raising issues on the importance of global trade.”
The mini ministerial meet is being planned even as New Delhi is in the process of finalising a proposal to reform the multilateral trade watchdog that is rendered unproductive with the US blocking the appointment of judges for more than two years.
New Delhi has sought amendment of laws on unilateral action by members on trade issues and resolution of the WTO’s dispute settlement system. The proposal also seeks to revive talks to strengthen global norms to protect traditional knowledge from reckless patenting by corporates through commercial exploitation of natural products by obtaining patents without fairly compensating the communities from which these originate — an activity that has harmed India and Africa equally.
Source : PTI