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WTO Ministerial Meeting

What is the WTO Ministerial meeting all about?

1. The WTO Ministerial Meeting of Developing Countries was held in New Delhi.

2. Both Developing and least developed countries took part in this meeting.

3. The deliberations aimed to constructively engage on various issues in the run up to the Twelfth Ministerial Conference of the WTO to be held in Kazakhstan in June 2020.

How has the WTO’s relevance changed in recent times?

1. WTO when started had a very effective philosophy for its functions.

2. It is a platform for trade negotiation among the nations at big level.

3. It flows smoothly, predictably and freely as much as possible.

4. It takes care of economic conditions of different nations.

5. Post 2008 economic recession, scenario changed, as every country started moving towards their self-vested interests( such as US)  ignoring the WTO.

6. There was a shift towards deglobalization. Protectionist tendencies are on the rise.

7. Trade tensions show no signs of abating.

8. Role of emerging economies, frontier economies and least developed countries also came into question. These countries were being ignored.

What does it mean for India?

1. Trade power is now getting shifted from US and Europe to Asian countries such as China, Japan and India.

2. Present government has a focused approach for trade growth for India. India has crossed 40% mark of the external trade out of total trade.

3. Bilateral trade of India is focused on service expertise in countries like US, Germany, England etc.

4. India is also appearing as a manufacturing hub for ASEAN countries and southeastern countries.

5. Tariff wars between US and China may cause problems to other nations as well.

Why is the present WTO Ministerial Meeting of Developing Countries significant for India?

1. This meeting was an initiative by India to facilitate exchange of views on issues of common interest for the developing countries.

2. It will explore how to collectively address the challenges on the WTO reform process.

3. The reform process is expected to mitigate the current crisis at WTO.

4. Destroying the existing system is not the correct way and may not have the desired outcome.

Which are the areas of reform needed to make WTO an effective body?

1. WTO needs to revisit its policy framework.

2. It needs to ensure that the benefits of smaller countries are also taken care of.

3. Trading blocs need to keep functioning like EU, NAFTA etc.

4. Intervention should come only in case of conflicts.

5. Surveillance norms of WTO also need to be strong to avoid deadlocks like the one in happened in Argentina.

6. The principles of non-discrimination, predictability, transparency, decision-making by consensus and, the commitment to development, underlying the multilateral trading system has to be retained by WTO.

7. Special and Differential Treatment Mechanism must be innovative in order to address the impasse.

8. The ideal way is to have a benchmark because the differentiation is already happening and is essential for small developing Countries.

9. There is a need to have a trade-facilitation-agreement-type model where countries may set their own benchmarks.

The Multilateral Trading System is the collective responsibility of all countries that have a stake in it. It is the duty of countries to successfully address conflicting interests, motives and ideologies, in order to preserve and strengthen this valuable institution.