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WTO should be modified, forward-looking, inclusive and deal with issues in a time-bound manner: Suresh Prabhu

Nov 19, 2018

NEW DELHI, 19 November 2018: Mr Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Government of India today stressed the critical importance of devising a modified, forward-looking and inclusive World Trade Organisation (WTO) that includes all substantive issues to be resolved in a time-bound manner.

Speaking at the conference 'Strategic Alliance for WTO and Trade Remedies Law and Practice, organised by FICCI jointly with Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan here today, Mr Prabhu said post the mini-ministerial conference in March this year, "We are preparing an agenda that does not exclude any country in the process of making the WTO better".

Mr Prabhu said that he had personally met with 150 trade ministers from different countries to take a reformed WTO agenda forward. "I am getting a positive response from all concerned including the Director General of WTO in our endeavour to take all countries on-board", he added.

The Commerce Minister said expansion of global trade hinges on rules and processes determined by the WTO and unless global trade expands, national economies will not benefit. It was, therefore, important that all substantive issues that have been agreed to at the Doha and other trade rounds as well as new issues that have cropped up are addressed with a sense of urgency.

Mr Rashesh Shah, President, FICCI expressed Indian industry's concern over reports that the appointment of appellate body in the WTO dispute resolution mechanism is blocked. This, he said, could weaken and paralyse one of the central pillars of the WTO. Industry was also grappling with the sort of complementary domestic polices and global trade governance rules that would be necessary to exploit the potential benefits from technology and applications. In this context, he called for solutions to enable small and medium businesses to take advantage of technology tools and innovations.

Mr R Parthasarathy, Principal Partner, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan while welcoming the Minister gave a background of SAWTR and the theme of the conference 'Contemporary challenges in the international trading systems', particularly the current trade war and underlined the need for bringing WTO negotiations back on rails, making it even more rule based.

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