Multilateral trading system is the collective responsibility of all countries: Prabhu
New Delhi, May 14 (KNN) The multilateral trading system is the collective responsibility of all countries who have a stake in it. It is the duty of countries to successfully address conflicting interests, motives and ideologies, in order to preserve and strengthen this valuable institution, said Suresh Prabhu, Commerce & Industry Minister.
Speaking at the WTO ministerial meeting of developing countries which concluded today, he said “Meeting is taking place at a time when trade tensions show no signs of abating and protectionist tendencies are on the rise which makes it very essential to collectively debate and discuss the way forward in a multilateral framework.”
The principles of non-discrimination, predictability, transparency, the tradition of decision-making by consensus and, most importantly, the commitment to development, underlying the multilateral trading system, are too valuable to lose, he said.
He stated “The approach of the ministerial meeting is to re-energize and strengthen multilateralism and put in place a more inclusive decision - making process.”
Towards this end, it is essential that the collective view of as many developing countries as possible is formally articulated in submissions on WTO reforms, he added.
Commerce Minister added that the meeting is an initiative by India to facilitate a free and frank exchange of views on all issues of common interest, particularly of the developing countries and will explore how to collectively address the challenges emerging from suggestions on WTO reform.
He said that there are 7.3 billion people living in developing countries and they cannot and should not be deprived of the benefits of growth and WTO is an institution which addresses these concerns of development and growth of countries through trade and not aid.
Commerce Minister hoped that the ministerial meeting will re-endorse the centrality of development in WTO negotiations and provide suggestions for WTO reforms with development at its core.
In his address, Director General of WTO, Roberto Azevedo said that the reform process will mitigate the current crisis at WTO and talk about destroying the existing system is not the correct way and may not have the desired outcome.
He further said that the dispute settlement crisis is a deep crisis and all countries have to look for a resolution. Business as usual approach is not an option anymore and all members should work for a solution.
Azevedo asserted that plurilaterals should not be seen as a division between developed and developing countries as they contain members from both sides.
He said that the special and differential treatment mechanism must be innovative in order to address the impasse. If left unaddressed it may go either way. The ideal way is to have a bench mark because the differentiation is already happening and is essential for small Developing Countries.
He further added that the best way forward is to have a trade-facilitation-agreement-type model where countries may set their own benchmarks.