Shri Anand Sharma, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, while addressing the media persons in Geneva last evening, emphasised that there was no change in India’s negotiating position in Agriculture and NAMA. When asked for his views on the success of the Ministerial Conference, Shri Sharma informed that this was the first full Ministerial in the aftermath of the global economic meltdown and the Conference had provided Members with an opportunity to collectively discuss the world economic scenario, challenges faced by the multilateral trading system and to review the working of the WTO. “While the Conference was not intended as a negotiating forum, it had provided a useful opportunity for different groups and caucuses to assess the direction of the negotiations. India and its coalition partners were steadfast and united in their commitment to uphold the development dimension, the centrality of the multilateral process and the need to safeguard livelihood concerns, particularly of the poor, subsistence farmers in their countries”.
While addressing the Working Session of the Seventh Ministerial Conference of the WTO on “The WTO’s Contribution to Recovery, Growth and Development”, Shri Sharma stated that the first priority should be to conclude the Doha Round as quickly as possible. Banking the progress that has been achieved in reducing tariffs, cutting distorting subsidies, opening markets and removing non-trade barriers would go a long way to increasing world trade and welfare, he said and stressed the importance of inclusive global development to shore up demand. Referring to the collapse of trade finance from September 2008 onwards, Shri Sharma emphasized the importance of the WTO initiatives for aid for trade and trade financing and underlined the need to rebalance factor movements and flows of capital and investment and for liberalisation across other factor markets including greater mobility of labour. Appreciating the WTO’s role in monitoring protectionist trends, the Minister observed that for the WTO to contribute to recovery growth and development, it must be made a more effective institution.
Shri Sharma also addressed a Ministerial Session of the Negotiating Committee of the GSTP, which adopted the Draft Ministerial Decision on Modalities for the Third Round of Global System of Trade Preferences negotiations. “India attaches a great deal of importance to the GSTP process for optimizing South-South synergies and expanding trade among developing countries. GSTP has contributed to an expansion of trade and has also fostered special and differential treatment to the exports of the Least Developed Countries. India participated actively and exchanged tariff concessions with 14 countries in the First GSTP Round in 1989. India believes that timely implementation of the agreement would assist developing countries in coping with the debilitating effects of the global economic crisis”, the Minister said.
Shri Sharma also met his counterparts from Argentina, Malaysia and Australia, during which a range of issues including the Doha Round were discussed.