|India has said it is “utterly disappointed” that the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) was not completed at a ministerial meet of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Nairobi. |
The Geneva-based WTO has been trying and failing to agree on a worldwide package of trade reforms since a meeting in Doha in 2001 hatched an ambitious plan for knocking down trade barriers.
India, however, managed to secure members rights for Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) that aims to protect poor farmers of developing countries as well as reaffirmation from all members to work towards a permanent solution on public stockholding.
Till a permanent solution is eked out, a peace clause in the WTO Ministerial draft to protect interests of developing countries would remain, India said.
“That all unfinished pillars of DDA shall be carried forward was also ensured. The special & differential treatment shall also be carried on,” Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in Nairobi on Saturday.
“India ensures that the Bali and General Council decisions on public stockholding of food grains is reaffirmed,” she added. The 2013 Bali Ministerial Declaration included a temporary deal to allow India to hold high grain stocks for food security in return for its support for the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that was struck at that meeting.
For most of the developing countries including India, public stockholding for food security is a critical livelihood issue.
Developed countries, led by the US, have been vocal on discontinuing with the Doha Development Agenda (DDA)
Trade ministers from 162 WTO countries had gathered in Kenya’s capital from Dec. 15-18 and an extended 24 hours to work on an agreement to liberalise global trade and give a push to the Doha round of trade talks stuck since 2001.
Earlier during negotiations, India was at the receiving end of criticism regarding its attempts to ‘block’ a global trade deal.
Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman rejected the allegations against India.
“India blocking WTO?! Disagree… Need to ensure Indian farmers/Agri interests are safe. Undue haste in pushing select (matters which are) subject of interest (of developed countries) worrying,” she tweeted.
The WTO reached deals on agricultural export subsidies, food aid and other issues on Saturday.
Kenya’s Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said she was confident that the Nairobi talks had actually “strengthened” the body over the week.
“For me, Nairobi will be remembered as having made that leap from a time when we were divided along this developed and developing divide,” she said.
The final draft, however, still reflects the deep divisions amongst the WTO membership on the issue of the reaffirmation of the Doha Development Agenda.
The Nairobi Package contains a series of six Ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to least-developed countries. These include a commitment to abolish export subsidies for farm exports, which Director-General Roberto Azevêdo hailed as the “most significant outcome on agriculture” in the organization’s 20-year history.
“A centrepiece of the Nairobi Package is a Ministerial Decision on Export Competition including a commitment to eliminate subsidies for farm exports,” said a WTO statement.
“A number of countries are currently using export subsidies to support agriculture exports. The legally-binding decision would eliminate these subsidies and prevent governments from reverting to trade-distorting export support in the future,” it added.