In the run-up to 9th WTO Bali Ministerial Conference and the growing challenges Indian industry is facing while utilizing FTA to their benefits, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in collaboration with Ministry of Commerce & Industry, India organized a day-long industry consultation titled “India’s International Trade Strategy: Industry Consultation on WTO Bali Ministerial and FTA Challenges” on 29 July 2013 in New Delhi. The 9th WTO Ministerial Conference is scheduled to be held at Bali in Indonesia on 3-6th December 2013.
The entire day session was split into two parts. While the morning session was entirely devoted on WTO Bali Ministerial, post-lunch session covered the FTA challenges part. Mr. Rajeev Kher, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and India’s chief WTO negotiator delivered the keynote address. Mr. Shishir Priyadarshi, Director & Head of Development Division, WTO, shared with participants the WTO Secretariat’s perspective on the progress made so far and expectations from the WTO Bali Ministerial. Mr Sunil Kant Munjal, Past President, CII, moderated the inaugural session.
Delivering the keynote address, Mr. Rajeev Kher re-iterated that India wants an early harvest of Doha round negotiations with adequate development content. As regards Trade Facilitation, which is being pushed aggressively by group of developed nations, he said that it would impose burdens on developing countries in terms of requirement of human resource, finances and infrastructure. Under the trade facilitation agenda WTO members are negotiating ways to facilitate trade, simplify and harmonize customs rules and reduce transactions cost.
Mr Kher said that the. India is particularly disappointed because of lack of positive movement on G-33 proposal on food security. G-33 along with other developing countries is spearheading the proposal on food security at the WTO. Mr Kher said that if G-33 and some other developmental proposals do not progress in the next ministerial, then trade facilitation agenda also may not move. He also expressed concerns on efforts being made by some WTO members to multilateralise the plurilateral agreements.
In his address, Mr. Priyadarshi informed that a large number of WTO members are expecting positive outcome of the next WTO ministerial. On trade facilitation agenda he said that a number of countries today are actively discussing about binding obligations but India is looking for a balanced approach. He also informed the audience that most of the unresolved issues in the current negotiating text are ones which have been proposed by developing countries including India. These include customs cooperation and adequate flexibility for developing countries.
Mr. Munjal said that from a development perspective a critical proposal on the table is from the G 33 group of developing countries on stock holding and food aid. This proposal is critical as countries like India, China and Philippines support this view and have food security schemes.
Mr. Sumanta Chaudhury, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry said that the budgetary constraint is the key challenge in implementing trade facilitation.
Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, in his welcome address said that the Indian industry wants early conclusion of Doha round of trade negotiations as per the agreed core mandate of Doha Development Agenda.
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