India to press for balanced package at WTO meeting: Sharma

New Delhi: India on Tuesday pitched for a “balanced package” for the least developed and developing countries in the WTO’s forthcoming talks at the ministerial level which is scheduled for in December in Bali.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is in Geneva, discussed the roadmap to Bali Ministerial meeting with key Ambassadors to WTO. Sharma is at the World Intellectual Property Organisation Headquarters for a High Level Policy Dialogue.

“Sharma made a strong pitch for a balanced package for the Ministerial which has the interest of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and developing nations at its core,” an official statement said.

The minister said that an LDC package including duty free quota free market access “must be part of the Bali package”.

The 9th WTO Ministerial Conference will take place from December 3-6 in Bali. The Ministerial Conference is the highest decision-making body of the 158-member multi-lateral Organisation which meets at least every two years.

The WTO members are also expected to take stock of the Doha Round, which aims at further opening up the global trade, at the Meeting.

The Doha talks, launched in 2001, have missed several deadlines for its conclusion due to divergent views on some of the issues between the developed countries like the US and the developing nations such as India.

On issues of sectoral pact on trade facilitation, Sharma said while India is not opposed to it, “there is a need for an internal balance in the Trade Facilitation proposal with adequate special and differential treatment for developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs) and and small and vulnerable economies.”

He also argued for providing technical and financial support to such economies so that they benefit from trade facilitation, it said.

Arguing that emerging economies have to carry a disproportionate burden of poverty and huge income disparities, Sharma said their needs merit a special and preferential treatment.

The minister also endorsed the G-33 proposal for food security and flexibility in their public stock holding operations for public distribution system.

“The interest of subsistence farmers in developing and poor countries have to be recognised and protected,” Sharma added.

About the emerging plurilateral arrangements in the WTO, he emphasised the need to uphold the centrality of multilateralism.


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