Indian Proposals on WTO Reforms Needs Coherence

November 21, 2009, New Delhi
India’s official communication to the WTO with five proposals on systemic reforms in the WTO is timely and deserves active endorsements from other member countries, but needs more coherence in its contents, panellists at a Seminar on the Indian proposals recommended on 21 November 2009 in New Delhi.

The panel consisted of noted trade policy experts including Anwarul Hoda, former Deputy Director General of the WTO, Faizel Ismail, Head of South Africa’s Delegation to the WTO and Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International.

The Indian communication has proposed setting up of a trade information system, revitalizing of WTO Committees, special legal provision of market access to LDCs and setting of Standards and monitoring of Regional Trade Agreements.

Speaking on the occasion, Amarendra Khatua, Joint Secretary, Government of India said that these are open ended proposals intended to provoke a debate, and on their own are vital for making the multilateral trading system equitable and just as well as achieve its development objectives.

The seminar was organized by CUTS International, Jaipur and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

The panel examined the practical difficulties and political dimensions involved in putting the proposals into practice and adjudged that garnering support for their implementation is next to impossible, considering the current impasse in multilateral trade talks.

Unfortunately discussion on the proposals will not be a part of the official agenda of the 7th Ministerial Conference of the WTO because a few developing countries did not support fearing that they may lead to introduction of a weighted voting system. Concerns were also raised on whether talks on systemic reforms at this stage will further delay the long awaited conclusion of the Doha Development Round.

A book entitled, ‘Reforming the WTO: Developing Countries in the Doha Round’ authored by Faizal Ismail and jointly published by CUTS and FES was released by Sharad Joshi, Member of Parliament.

Manab Majumdar, Assistant Secretary General of FICCI and R V Kanoria, Chairman of ICC Trade Commission were among the other key speakers.
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