Sunday, September 5, 2010

Discuss India’s stand on agricultural issues in WTO’s Ministerial Conferences since Doha Round? (CSE 2008)

The Doha ministerial conference which was held in 2001, adopted a comprehensive work programme also called the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), launching negotiations on some issues and setting out additional parameters and time frames for the negotiations on agriculture and service that had commenced on 1 Jan 2000 in accordance with the built in mandates in the respective WTO Agreements.

The Cancun Ministerial Conference 2003 was to take a stock of the progress in DDA negotiations, take necessary decisions and to provide further political guidance. But, prior to the Cancun Ministerial, the US and EC made a joint submission on the framework for modalities of negotiations on Agriculture that was based on their own perceptions and did not take into the account the concern of developing countries. This led to the formation of a coalition of developing countries now called the G-20, which has since played a very major role in shaping the negotiations on agriculture.

The G-20 played a crucial role in the aftermath of the Cancun Ministerial Conference in the negotiations on agriculture. India has engaged in these negotiations to ensure that its core concerns and interests continue to be adequately addressed as negotiations proceed from one stage to the next.

At Hong Kong, India was proactive in articulating in position on issues of concern to it and other developing countries and played a key role in further strenghting the developing country coalitions by bringing together G-20, G-33 and G-90 group of countries.

These developing countries accuses the rich nations of protecting their farmers through subsidies and then dumping their goods in poor countries at knock down prices, undermining local farmers.

This Minister’s meet held in Geneva on 21 July to 25 July 2008 failed. Because both India and China could not reach an agreement on the issue. India with other G-33 members wanted an import surge of 110 percent over three-year base period to triggers SSM (Special safeguard measures) while, US demanded for 150 percent.

India attaches more importance to a rule based multilateral trading system. India will continue to protect and pursue its national interests in these negotiations and work together with other WTO members.

Doha, 2001

Began in November 2001, committing all countries to negotiations opening agricultural and manufacturing markets, as well as trade-in-services (GATS) negotiations and expanded intellectual property regulation (TRIPS). The intent of the round, according to its proponents, was to make trade rules fairer for developing countries. However, by 2008, critics were charging that the round would expand a system of trade rules that were bad for development and interfered excessively with countries' domestic "policy space"

What is the WTO?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.

India and the WTO

India has been a WTO member since 1 January 1995.

Brazil, India to push ahead on duty-free schemes for the poorest countries

Brazil and India told the Committee on Trade and Development on 18 March 2010 that they are pushing ahead with commitments to provide duty-free, quota-free treatment of imports from the least-developed countries (LDCs). The Committee elected Amb. Erwidodo (Indonesia) as its chair for 2010 and re-elected Amb. Jean Feyder (Luxembourg) as chair of the Sub-Committee on Least-Developed Countries.

Brazil said that an inter-ministerial working group is finalizing implementation of the commitment made by Foreign Minister Celso Amorim at the WTO Ministerial Conference last year for duty-free, quota-free treatment for LDCs. It said that the preferential treatment will initially cover 80 per cent of the tariff lines by mid-year, and will be expanded to reach 100 per cent.

India said that it was the first developing country to offer duty-free, quota-free treatment to LDC exports in 2008. It said it is working to ensure that the scheme provide effective market access, noting that important LDC products are covered like cotton, cocoa, cane sugar and ready-made garments. It said that the scheme has become fully operational for 14 LDCs, and urged other LDCs to utilize this facility.

Bangladesh underlined the importance of the scheme for LDCs, and thanked Brazil and India for their update reports on their respective programmes.


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