India’s WTO reform plans not coherent

The Financial Express, November 22, 2009
Former member of Planing Commission, Anwarul Hoda on Saturday said India’s proposal to reform the functioning of the World Trade Organisation is not ‘coherent’. The five-point proposal by India has been supported by almost all WTO member countries and formally endorsed by the United States, Europe and China.

The proposals include setting up a web-based information system on non-tariff barriers imposed by countries as well as giving more teeth to the WTO committees. Moreover, India has also proposed that there should be better monitoring of bilateral duty free deals that are and efficient.

Speaking at a seminar organised by civil society group CUTS International Hoda said “I was looking for coherence in the proposals, but it is not there. It is a medley, going in every direction.” Hoda was India’s chief negotiator in the Uruguay Round of world trade talks. He also served as the deputy director general of WTO in 1995. Commenting on the proposal to establish a web-based portal, that seeks to act as a single platform for information on Non-Tariff Barriers, Hoda said there would be implementation issues. “It will be very difficult to have notifications, that too filed in a detailed format, in a database,” he added.

India has proposed a more pro-active role for the WTO-based committees. “Nations insist that processes in WTO should be member driven. But the Indian proposals call for giving the WTO secretariat more responsibility,” Hoda added.

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