India has called for creating a level playing field for developing countries in agri-trade to safeguard livelihood of millions of poor farmers. The issue, among others, was discussed during the mini-ministerial gathering of key Trade Ministers of WTO in Oslo on October 21-22. Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman represented India.
In the meeting, she “underlined the need for creating a level playing field for the developing countries in agricultural trade by addressing inequities and distortions which are threatening the livelihood of millions of poor farmers across the world,” the Commerce Ministry said in a statement.
Drawing attention to the livelihood and food security concerns of fishermen in developing countries, she also underscored the importance of special and differential provisions in fisheries subsidies.
The two-day meeting was convened with a view to informally discuss various issues relating to WTO negotiations and set the stage for the Eleventh Ministerial Conference of the WTO to be held in Argentina in December 2017.
In her interventions, Sitharaman highlighted the centrality of the development dimension of the Doha Round and the need to work on the issues and ministerial decisions of special interest for developing countries.
Further, she stressed on the importance of ensuring adequate policy space for developing countries in the negotiations.
On the issue of securing success at the meeting in Argentina and beyond, the minister called for the need to focus on putting concrete ideas on the table for moving from ‘reflection to action’.
Emphasising the primacy of multilateralism, she cautioned against use of regional trade agreements to make fundamental changes in the architecture of WTO agreements, the statement said.
The minister also highlighted the need for trade facilitation in services on which India recently introduced a concept note in the WTO.
“This will remove unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden of cross border supply of services, benefiting all members,” it said.
She also held a bilateral meeting with Susana Mabel Malcorra, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship, Argentina, on the sidelines of the WTO gathering.
They exchanged views on WTO issues and bilateral trade cooperation. Both sides agreed to identify sectors for promoting bilateral investment.
Sitharaman also met Roberto Azevedo, DG WTO and discussed the means to achieve inclusive and balanced outcomes at the Eleventh Ministerial Conference.