Special, differential treatment for developing countries to figure in WTO meet in Kazakhstan
The Ministerial Conference is the highest decision-making body of the 164-member WTO.
Trade ministers of all the member countries participate in the deliberations. The 12th Ministerial Conference will take place from June 8-11 this year at Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan.
"This time, besides fishery subsidies, special and differential treatment and investment facilitation will figure in the meeting," the official said.
As part of reforms at the WTO, the US wants the formulation of some guidelines that countries with high economic growth are prevented from taking benefits of special and differential treatment (S&DT), which is meant for developing and poor nations.
The S&DT allows developing countries to enjoy certain benefits, including taking longer time periods for implementing agreements and binding commitments, and measures to increase trading opportunities for them.
Currently, any WTO member can designate itself as a developing country and avail these benefits.
The US had submitted its suggestions to the WTO that states that self-declaration puts the WTO on a path to failed negotiations and it is also a path to institutional irrelevance.
India is of the view that the matter needs to be negotiated comprehensively in the WTO and a consensus-based decision needs to be taken on S&DT.
Further, on fishery subsidies, India wants an equitable and balanced outcome in the negotiations as the country provides support to its small and marginal fishermen who depend on the sector for sustenance.
Unlike rich nations, which provide billions of dollars of subsidies to their fishermen, India's subsidy amounts to only about Rs 770 crore. The government provides subsidy on things like fuel and boat.
Unlike India, the fishing community of developed countries use highly mechanised boats for fishing, which are called mother boats wherein they have processing units also. Developed countries want to intensify negotiations on fisheries subsidies so that an agreement can be clinched at the Kazakhstan meeting.
At the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, held at Buenos Aires in Argentina in December 2017, members had agreed to continue to engage constructively in fisheries subsidies negotiations, with a view to adopting an agreement by the next ministerial conference.India had earlier raised serious concerns over bringing issues related to investment facilitation within the ambit of WTO saying these are bilateral matters and cannot be decided at multi-lateral forums. RR HRS
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