Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Dec17/17)
12 December 2017
Third World Network
India won't accept shifting priority from DDA to non-trade issues
Published in SUNS #8594 dated 12 December 2017
Buenos Aires, 11 Dec (D. Ravi Kanth) - India's commerce minister Suresh
Prabhu on Monday delivered a strong message that his government will
not accept shifting priority from the Doha Development Agenda (DDA)
issues to non-trade issues such as investment facilitation and new
disciplines for micro, small, and medium enterprises at the World
Trade Organization's eleventh ministerial conference in Buenos Aires.
India said the new issues have no mandate, and it is grave error to
address these issues without completing work on the unresolved Doha
Delivering a balanced but strong statement at the plenary meeting,
the Indian commerce and industry minister said: "At a time when
the global trade environment is fragile, let this [Buenos Aires] Ministerial
Conference be an occasion for conducting the unfinished agenda of
the Doha Work Programme, and collectively strive to preserve and revitalize
Without naming the United States which is blocking the appointment
of members to the Appellate Body and thereby causing "paralysis"
in the dispute settlement resolution system, India said it is concerned
"at the inordinate delay in appointment of new members to the
"We need to collectively and expeditiously resolve this impasse,"
Among the proposed deliverables at Buenos Aires, India emphasized
the importance of the permanent solution for public stockholding (PSH)
programs for food security, which "is a matter of survival for
eight hundred million hungry and undernourished people in the world."
"A successful resolution of this issue would fulfil our collective
commitment to the global community. In this context, we cannot envisage
any negotiated outcome at MC11, which does not include a permanent
solution," the Indian commerce and industry minister said.
He drew attention to addressing the real trade-distorting subsidies
by eliminating the Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) and removing
the continued "asymmetry" as a first step for commencing
work in the global agriculture reform.
"This asymmetry needs to be addressed as a first step in agricultural
reform through a post-MC11 work programme without, however, shifting
the burden of reduction of agricultural subsidies to developing countries,"
Commenting on fisheries subsidies where some progress has been made,
India said "we can agree to future work on this issue towards
an outcome at MC12 that preserves the policy space for developing
countries to support millions who depend on traditional fishing activity
as the sole source of livelihood."
The Indian minister said that the discussions on domestic regulation
in services are not based on a credible framework, adding, "I
am apprehensive that the present approach in the negotiations will
not lead to any fruitful outcomes at MC11."
"A work programme for Services including DR [domestic regulation]
and some elements of India's proposal on Trade Facilitation in Services,
including Mode 4, can take the Services agenda forward," the
Indian minister maintained.
On new issues which are sought to be introduced into the negotiating
agenda of the WTO, India cautioned the ministers that any steps on
e-commerce that would tweak the 1998 work program will prove to be
"Many of these issues are neither trade-related nor have these
been discussed in detail," he said, arguing that "gains
from E-commerce must not be confused with gains from negotiating binding
rules in this area."
"It is for this reason that we support continuation of the 1998
Work Programme with its non-negotiating mandate," Prabhu said
It remains to be seen how India will ensure its pronouncements at
the meeting are translated into actual ministerial decisions, said
several trade ministers, who asked not to be quoted.