Saturday, March 1, 2014

India's concern at WTO

New Trade Facilitation Deal signed by WTO

The WTO Ministerial Conference (which is the highest decision making body) met at Bali, Indonesia last year to finalize the trade facilitation agreement. The agreement seeks to make trade hassle free and cost efficient. The main concerns that the agreement tries to bring about in world market: clear penal conditions, low paper work, less delays in clearances, low non-tariff barriers among other things. Also, the Services’ Agreement aims at opening services sector for more open competition.
The agreement aims at improving co-operation among member nations to bring down impediments on customs side.
Other Negotiations:
Earlier, the Doha negotiations are still to take final form. Already the deadline date (2005) has been crossed. These negotiations deals with: issues of intellectual property rights, reducing non-tariff barriers (concern raised by developed countries), capacity building and helping the developing and LDCs countries to integrate with world trade.
India at Bali
The main concern of India at Bali was to ensure that the Agreement of Agriculture (1995) that puts a cap on subsidies on public distribution, does not curtail the PDS and NFSA schemes. Also, India along with G-33 countries is pushing for updating the reference prices for food grains that were set in 1986-88 (in the wake of growing food inflation). The US and the EU have opposed such moves and the Bali Ministerial Conference ended with granting two years’ reprieve (i.e. peace-clause) for the developing countries with issues related to subsidy.

Once the final deal is struck down, such schemes along with Intellectual Property laws (especially in pharma sector) may need a revamp of existing structures to meet the WTO obligations.

From AOA (pdf available on the WTO website):
Article 18 (4):
In the review process Members shall give due consideration to the influence of excessive rates of inflation on the ability of any Member to abide by its domestic support commitments.
The bold part of the sentence is what India is trying to bring about at WTO table and the members are reluctant to give LDCs the opportunity to revise the base prices as it will affect their farmers and their farmer lobby wont like it.

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