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India blocked WTO ministerial declaration agreement in Dec: US

At the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017, members agreed to several important outcomes, including a Ministerial decision on fisheries subsidies and a work programme on electronic commerce.

Reported by: PTI, Washington [ Published on: March 01, 2018 22:31 IST ]
India blocked WTO ministerial declaration agreement in Dec:
India blocked WTO ministerial declaration agreement in Dec: US

The Trump administration has told the Congress that India in December "blocked" a ministerial declaration reaffirming the principles and objectives set out in the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the WTO.

The four-day conference of the 164-member World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Argentina had ended without a ministerial declaration or any substantive outcome in December.

At the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017, members agreed to several important outcomes, including a Ministerial decision on fisheries subsidies and a work programme on electronic commerce.

This included an extension of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions; and the creation of a working party on accession for South Sudan, among others, the Trump administration told the Congress in its trade policy agenda and annual report yesterday.

"At the end of the conference, the United States and all Members, except India, were prepared to sign a short Ministerial Declaration reaffirming the principles and objectives set out in the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the WTO," said the report submitted by US Trade Representatives.

"India blocked consensus due to its demands for text to be included in the Declaration regarding special and differential treatment and the conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA)," the report alleged.

The US and others have clearly stated that Members must rethink how development is approached at the WTO, and that it is time to move beyond the outdated, failed framework of the DDA, it said.

If the WTO is to reclaim its credibility as a vibrant negotiating and implementing forum, Members must take advantage of every opportunity to advance work and seize results as they present themselves, it said.

In looking ahead to the period before the 12th Ministerial Conference in 2019, the US believes that Members should begin the process of identifying opportunities to achieve accomplishments, even if incremental ones, and avoid buying into the predictable, and often risky, formula of leaving everything to a package of results for Ministerial action, the Trump administration said.

"Whether the issue is agriculture or digital economy, the WTO will impress capitals and stakeholders most by simply doing rather than posturing for the next Ministerial Conference," it added.

Bringing disappointment to developing countries like India, the talks at the WTO's 11th ministerial conference had collapsed, with the US going back on its commitment to find a permanent solution to the public food stockholding issue.

As the US refused to engage, the WTO failed to reach a common ground for resolving the food security issue, a demand raised prominently by India.

India had wanted explicit reference on commitment for completion of the DDA and affirmation of faith in multilateralism. As some members did not agree to India's submission, the ministerial declaration failed to pass the muster. 

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