India’s stand on Agricultural Issues in WTO’s Ministerial Conferences since Doha Round!
The Uruguay round of GATT (1986-93) gave birth to World Trade Organisation. The members of the GATT signed on an agreement of Uruguay round in April 1944 in Morocco for establishing a new organisation named WTO. It was officially constituted on 1st January, 1995 which took place of GATT as an effective formal organisation. It was an informal organisation which regulated world trade since 1948. Like GATT, WTO headquarters is at Geneva. The highest authority of policy making is WTO’s Ministerial conference which is held after every 2 years.
The fourth Ministerial Conference of WTO was held at Doha (Qatar) from 9-14 November, 2001, to decide upon the future work programme of the WTO. The substantial outcome of the Doha ministerial is the work programme aimed at reduction in custom’s tariffs and opening up of agriculture and services.
The fourth ministerial conference adopted a comprehensive work programme, also called the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) launching negotiations on some issues and setting out additional parameters and time frames for the negotiations on agriculture and services that had commenced on 1st January, 2000 in accordance with the built in mandates in the respective WTO agreements.
The Cancun Ministerial Conference 2003 was to take a stock of the progress in DDA negotiations, take necessary decisions and to provide further political guidance. But prior to Cancun Ministerial, the US and EC made a joint submission on the framework for modalities of negotiations on agriculture that was based on their own perception and did not take into account the concern of developing countries. This led to the formation of a coalition of developing countries now called the G-20, which has since played a very major role in shaping the negotiations on agriculture.
The G-20 played a crucial role in the aftermath of the Cancun Ministerial Conference in the negotiations on agriculture. India has engaged in these negotiations to ensure that its core concerns and interests continue to be adequately addressed as negotiations proceed from one stage to the next.
At Hong-Kong, India was pro-active in articulating in position on issues of concern to it and other developing countries and played a key role in further strengthening the developing country coalitions by bringing together G-20, G-33 and G-90 group of countries.
These developing countries accuses the rich nations of protecting their farmers through subsidies, and then dumping their goods on poor countries at knock down prices, undermining local farmers.
The Minister’s meet held in Geneva on 21st July to 25 July, 2008 failed. Because both India and China could not reach an agreement on the issue. India with other G-33 members wanted an import surge of 110% over three-year base period to triggers SSM (Special Safeguard Measures) while, US demanded for 150%.
India attaches more importance to a rule based multilateral trading system. India will continue to protect and pursue its national interests in these negotiations and work together with other WTO members.