By IAT Bureau
A WTO Ministerial meeting of developing countries was hosted by India in New Delhi on 13-14 May 2019. Eight African countries viz. Benin, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Egypt, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda attended the meeting. In addition, representatives of Argentina, Bangladesh, Barbados, Brazil, China, Guatemala, Guyana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Turkey also participated in the meeting.
Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu and the Director General of WTO, Roberto Azevedo also participated in the meeting. In the inaugural session of the Ministerial Meeting, today morning, Suresh Prabhu 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. The Commerce Minister added that he is certain that the efforts of the New Delhi Ministerial Meeting will definitely lead to a WTO which is better than what it is today.
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, the Minister added. 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.
The approach of the New Delhi Ministerial Meeting is to re-energise 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.
A year ago, on 19-20 March 2018, India had organised an Informal WTO Ministerial Gathering, in which more than 50 Members – both developed and developing- had participated. In the March 2018 Gathering in New Delhi it was emphasized that there is a need to preserve and enhance the functioning and credibility of the rules-based Multilateral Trading System as embodied in the WTO.
Commerce Minister hoped that the New Delhi Ministerial Meeting will re-endorse the centrality of development in WTO negotiations and provide suggestions for WTO reforms with development at its core.