A file photo. Representing India at the WTO meet, commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu said that any meaningful reform in agriculture must first seek to reduce the disproportionately large subsidies of the developed countries. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint (Priyanka Parashar/Mint)
A file photo. Representing India at the WTO meet, commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu said that any meaningful reform in agriculture must first seek to reduce the disproportionately large subsidies of the developed countries. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint (Priyanka Parashar/Mint)

India opposes inclusion of new issues under WTO negotiations

Developed countries have been trying to include issues such as e-commerce and investment regulations in the agenda of WTO talks which India is opposed to

New Delhi: India has opposed inclusion of new issues under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations and asked developed countries to substantially reduce agriculture subsidies at the informal WTO Ministerial at Marrakesh.

In the two-day meeting which concluded on Wednesday, trade ministers and delegates of 35 WTO member countries exchanged views on possible outcomes and compromises in the upcoming 11th WTO Ministerial at Buenos Aires, Argentina on 10-13 December.

Representing India, commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu said that any meaningful reform in agriculture must first seek to reduce the disproportionately large subsidies of the developed countries. Prabhu called for continuation of the reform process in agriculture and urged nations to “avoid further widening and perpetuation of the imbalance between developed and developing countries," a commerce ministry statement said.

“Prabhu called upon WTO members to first deal with the issues which were already under negotiation, before moving on to new ones," the statement said. Developed countries have been trying to include issues such as e-commerce and investment regulations in the agenda of WTO talks which India is opposed to.

Prabhu insisted that a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes must be a part of the outcomes achieved at 11th WTO Ministerial, as this is an issue of tremendous importance not only to India but also several other developing countries. “Prabhu pointed out that a solution on this issue would give a strong signal of determination to end hunger and achieve food security, as mandated in the UN Sustainable Development Goal 2," the ministry said.

On the issue of discipline on fisheries subsidies which is seen as a potential deliverable at the upcoming WTO Ministerial, Prabhu stressed on the importance of “suitable" special and differential treatment provisions and the need to make a clear distinction between large scale commercial fishing and traditional fishing. “In India, a large number of small, largely resource poor fish workers depended on traditional fishing activity as a source of livelihood. Developing countries like India, possessing very low fishing capacity, would also need to retain policy space to promote and create such capacity," he added.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Prabhu held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from EU, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Rwanda, Morocco, as well as the Director General of the WTO Roberto Azevedo.

“Constructive discussions in Marrakech at ministerial meeting. Still hard work remains if we want to make @wto in Buenos Aires a success," Cecilia Malmström, EU trade commissioner tweeted on Wednesday.

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