The Page One Asia, June 23, 2023
The Director General of the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has appointed the CUTS Secretary General, Pradeep S. Mehta to her 12 member NGO Advisory Body.
In the past, Mehta had served on the advisory bodies to Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, DG, WTO during 2003-05, and Dr Pascal Lamy, DG, WTO during 2012-13. For CUTS, this recognition coming in the wake of its 40th Anniversary is a cause of celebration for the organization and the country also.
The current NGO advisory body includes Kirsten Schujit, DG, WWF; Jason Braganza, ED, Afrodad; Helena Leurent of Consumers International etc.
The first meeting of the advisory body took place virtually when Dr. Okonjo-Iweala briefed the body about the current state of play and what she expects the advisory body to help her with.
Food security was the focus of the first meeting, where the issues of subsidies in the agriculture sector of the west came up for criticism because it also has an environmental burden which is worsening the climate change scenario.
It was recognised that public stockholding being demanded by many developing countries like India is a necessary condition for their large poor population’s food security. Fisheries subsidies too come up for discussion which would be taken forward in MC13.
“I look forward to assisting Dr Ngozi in reinforcing the multilateral agenda of the WTO and ensure that the developing countries, and LDCs in particular, are able to gain advantage of their membership to create more wealth and reduce poverty in the world”, said Mehta. “Many inequities in the system need to be addressed so that the Global South is able to rise.”
For example, CUTS has pleaded with the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to persuade the US President, Joe Biden and the US Congress to agree to restore the dispute settlement system in the WTO soon, when he is visiting USA now. This will empower the Global South to deal with disputes against the rich countries expeditiously.
The dispute settlement system has been put in limbo because the US is not allowing appointment of members to the Appellate Body of the WTO DSB without which disputes cannot be resolved permanently.
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