November 20, 2017 | By:
New Delhi: Battle lines have been drawn between developed and developing countries over the agenda for the forthcoming WTO ministerial conference at Buenos Aires, with India saying it will oppose discussion on new issues like e-commerce, investment facilitation and government procurement.
If India remains firm on its stand, the upcoming ministerial, to be held from December 10-13, could fail to produce any substantive outcome. But it remains to be seen how far India can fend off the developed world’s pressure on inclusion of new issues in the ministerial agenda.
The experience of the previous WTO Ministerial Conference, Nairobi in 2015, does not inspire much confidence that India would be able to thwart moves to push new issues onto the WTO agenda. There was no unambiguous affirmation on sticking to the Doha agenda at Nairobi, despite India strongly pitching for it.
The ministerial is the highest decision-making body of the WTO and meets at least once every two years to give political direction to the organization.
As a priority, India wants the WTO to focus discussion on the Doha development agenda, without being distracted by new issues.
The Doha round of WTO negotiations was launched in the wake of the September 11 attack on the twin towers in the US by the Al Qaeda. The exigency of building a wider political consensus for a global response against terror forced developed countries to agree on giving some unilateral concessions to the developing countries.
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