Geneva: India claimed success in influencing the Hamburg declaration of G-20 leaders on Saturday, but a cursory glance would suggest that New Delhi’s core development priorities for multilateral trade liberalization seems to have been given a short shrift.

“India had a major influence on counter-terrorism discussions at the G-20 and also played a significant role in talks on trade and investment, migration and climate change," Arvind Panagariya, India’s sherpa for the G-20 negotiations, told reporters on Friday.

He said the negotiations on trade, excess capacity in steel and other metals, including aluminium, climate change, and migration were pretty difficult. Panagariya suggested that he along with his team of officials drawn from the finance and external affairs ministries had worked long hours since 4 July.

The US, he said, insisted specific language on “reciprocity" demanding that for liberalizing trade it has to be reciprocal and balanced. “This is not particularly new," he said, maintaining that “nobody liberalizes unilaterally" except some developing countries. “But when it comes to bigger players all liberalization is reciprocal."

“What is important," he added, is “non-discrimination" which continues to be part of the declaration. Effectively, the declaration implied that all sides must liberalize based on the principle of non-discrimination, he said.

He admitted that there is “some bit of shift in the communiqué" that was negotiated in Hamburg as compared to the past one. But Panagariya did not mention the huge differences between the last G-20 leaders communiqué issued in Hangzhou, China, on 5 September 2016, and the Hamburg declaration on issues such as the commitment to shape the post-Nairobi work with development at its centre while committing to advancing negotiations on the remaining DDA (Doha Development Agenda) as a matter of priority. He did not say why controversial social standards were included against which India and other developing countries have remained opposed since 1999 Seattle ministerial meeting.

The Hamburg declaration says G-20 leaders “commit to work together with all WTO (World Trade Organization) members to make the 11th WTO ministerial conference a success." But it did not mention what that meeting in Buenos Aires in December is going to deliver and whether the outcomes will be based on the unresolved Doha issues, including the mandated issue of the permanent solution for public stockholding programmes for food security as demanded by India, Indonesia, and China of the G33 countries. There is no mention—perhaps for the first time—on achieving developmental outcomes based on DDA.

In sharp contrast, the Hangzhou G-20 leaders communique issued in September 2016 had committed “to shape the post-Nairobi work programme with development at its centre and commit to advancing negotiations on the remaining DDA issues as a matter of priority, including all three pillars of agriculture i.e market access, domestic support and export competition, non-agricultural market access, services,development, Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and rules."

The Hangzhou communiqué also said “We will work together with all WTO members with a sense of urgency and solidarity and with a view to achieving positive outcomes of the MC11 (11th ministerial conference of the WTO) and beyond and we will work together to further strengthen the WTO."

Clearly, the developing countries led by India, China, and South Africa among others which had emphasized developmental outcomes based on DDA, will have to explain why they allowed to omit specific language on their core priorities in multilateral trade liberalization.

India and other developing countries also agreed to language on linking global value chains to social clauses in the Hamburg declaration. The industrialized countries led by the US, the European Union demanded the inclusion of social clauses in the global trade debate.

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