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India Disappointed With WTO Declaration At Nairobi Meeting

According to the draft decision on cotton, the members decided to phase out export subsidies for developed nations immediately, while it has been marked for developing countries not later January 1, 2017

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1450587474_hhpHqk_Nirmala_Nairobi_PTI.jpg

India has expressed disappointment over non-reaffirmation of the long-stalled Doha Round, agreement on cotton and a few provisions related to phasing out of export subsidies.

In the concluding session in Nairobi, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman registered a strong "disappointment" over the non-reaffirmation of Doha Development Agenda.

She also expressed her concern and "surprise" that a few amendments have been made in the decision and declarations adopted on cotton.

"I very clearly had mentioned under cotton that for the developing countries, we shall not accept the date. That date of 2017 has gone through, which is completely unacceptable to me ... so I would still appeal to delete the date given here," she said at the concluding session of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference.

According to the draft decision on cotton, the members decided to phase out export subsidies for developed nations immediately, while it has been marked for developing countries not later January 1, 2017.

On the decision agreed on the phasing out of the export subsidies, Sitharaman said in some paragraphs, the "developed members" word has been replaced with "inclusive of developing countries" which is also "not acceptable".

As per the draft ministerial decision, the WTO members reaffirm their commitment, pursuant to the 2013 Bali Ministerial Declaration on Export Competition, to exercise utmost restraint with regard to any recourse to all forms of export subsidies and all export measures with equivalent effect.

Export Subsidies
"Developed Members shall immediately eliminate their remaining scheduled export subsidy entitlements as of the date of adoption of this Decision. Developing country Members shall eliminate their export subsidy entitlements by the end of 2018," the declaration said.

The members of the global trade body agreed on a commitment for giving the developing nations a right to take recourse to Special Safeguard Mechanism to protect their farmers - a long-standing demand of India.

Lobbying by India and other developing countries also led to reaffirmation to decisions taken earlier at WTO (World Trade Organisation) on the issue of public stockholding.

"We ensured that the Bali and the General Council's November 2014 decision on public stockholding which gives protection to my farmers has been reaffirmed in no uncertain terms.

"The decisions taken here will form the part from where work will begin on it to give a permanent solution," Sitharaman told PTI.

According to the draft decision on cotton, the members decided to phase out export subsidies for developed nations immediately, while it has been marked for developing countries not later January 1, 2017.

Sitharaman also said that "India is disappointed that notwithstanding a large group - India, China, G33, African Union -- all of us insisting that Doha has to be reaffirmed , the reaffirmation has been divided. We are thoroughly disappointed on this core".

Declaration

Further, the draft declaration also provides a Ministerial affirmation that till such time a permanent solution on public stockholding is found, the peace clause shall continue to be in place. The draft Declaration also reflects India s demand for a Ministerial Decision to develop a special safeguard mechanism for agricultural products that will be available for developing countries.

The five-page declaration at the Nairobi meeting, which also marked the 20th anniversary since the establishment of the WTO, underlined the crucial importance of the multilateral rules-based trading system and reaffirmed the principles and objectives set out in the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO. .

The Ministers also reaffirmed "the pre-eminence of the WTO as the global forum for trade rules setting and governance".

"We note with concern the slow and uneven recovery from the severe economic and financial crisis of 2008, resulting in lower global economic growth, depressed agricultural and other commodity prices, raising inequalities, unemployment and significantly slower expansion of international trade in recent years," the declaration said.

"We acknowledge that international trade can play a role towards achieving sustainable, robust and balanced growth for all. We pledge to strengthen the multilateral trading system so that it provides a strong impetus to inclusive prosperity and welfare for all Members and responds to the specific development needs of developing country Members, in particular the least-developed country Members."

Acknowledging that the majority of WTO Members are developing countries, the declaration said, "We seek to place their needs and interests at the centre of the work in the WTO."

It also reiterated that the WTO will remain the main forum to negotiate multilateral trade rules.

"We have done our best that we can in such a situation. Most of the commitments given by the WTO to us are carried forward with complete assurance and we have not lost any ground," Sitharaman said.

(PTI)