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13/05/2019 02:15pm

The logjam in the Appellate Body is a serious threat to the dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO: Anup Wadhawan

image The logjam in the Appellate Body is a serious threat to the dispute settlement mechanism of the WT: Anup Wadhawan

New Delhi, May 13 (KNN) The existential challenges to the multilateral rules based trading system are manifestina spate of unilateral measures and counter measures, deadlock in key areas of negotiations and the impasse in the Appellate Body, said Dr Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary.

He was speaking at the inaugural session of WTO (World Trade Organist) Ministerial Meeting.

He welcomed senior officials of participating delegations from Developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) who are meeting in New Delhi over two days to discuss key issues and challenges facing the multi-lateral trading system.

He said “The logjam in the Appellate Body is a serious threat to the dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO and the implementation function of the Organization. The fundamentals of the system are being tested through a tide of protectionism around the world vitiating the global economic environment.  The situation does not bode well for developing countries, including the LDCs.”

He added, the situation in the WTO has spurred a strong discourse for reforming the WTO, which unfortunately is characterized by a complete lack of balance.  The reform agenda being promoted does not address the concerns of the developing countries.  The discussions in the meeting being held in New Delhi give a chance to reaffirm the resolve to keep development at the centre of the reform agenda.  

 The reform initiatives must promote inclusiveness and non-discrimination, build trust and address the inequalities and glaring asymmetries in existing agreements. These asymmetries are against the interest of developing countries including LDCs, he said.

There is a need to work together to put issues of importance for developing countries and their priorities in the reform agenda.

There has been no active engagement or movement on key issues of concerns for developing countries including LDCs in the negotiating agenda. Agriculture remains a key priority for a large membership of WTO representing the developing world. However, there is a strong push to completely relegate existing mandates and decisions and work done for the past many years, to the background, he added.

He said, Discipline on fisheries subsidies are currently under negotiation at the WTO with intense engagement to understand the issues and work out a meaningful agreement by December 2019. The MC11 decision on fisheries subsidies clearly mandates that there should be an appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing countries.

It is important for developing countries including LDCs to collectively work for a fair and equitable agreement on disciplines in fisheries subsidies, which takes into consideration the livelihood needs of subsistence fishermen and ground realities in our countries, and protects our policy space to develop capacities for harnessing our marine resources. India believes that developing countries need to work together to protect their interests in the WTO negotiations through preservation of the core fundamental principles of the WTO, he added.

He said, the two-day meet gives an opportunity to the participating countries of developing a shared WTO reform proposal on issues of priority and interest for developing countries. This will help in building a common narrative on issues of importance for Developing Countries including LDCs.

In two days meeting  the issues which will be discussed are finding a solution to the ongoing impasse in the Appellate Body on an urgent basis, issues of importance and priority for developing countries including LDCs in the reform agenda, how to reinvigorate negotiating agenda on issues of critical importance for developing countries?

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