India, disappointed with outcome of the recent WTO Ministerial meeting at Kenyan capital of Nairobi, plans to make sincere efforts to push for early conclusion of the long-stalled Doha Round talks at the global trade body in 2016.
A senior official of the Narendra Modi government recently said that India’s New Year resolution is to find a permanent solution to food security issues. The official, who wished to remain anonymous, also said it is unfortunate that the WTO failed to address concerns of the developing nations in Nairobi. He added that the outcome disheartened India and other developing countries as far as the 14-year-old Doha commitments were concerned.
The Indian official stressed that it would be important to reach a successful conclusion of the Doha Round agenda as soon as possible and rich nations should agree to substantially reduce their farm subsidies. The Indian officials registered strong disappointment over non-reaffirmation of the Doha Development Agenda soon after the Nairobi declaration was issued. They also received support from many other countries on this particular issue. India has decided to take up the issues of Doha Round and public stockholding for food security purposes this year.
Experts believe that India and other developing countries will have to bargain hard to ensure a positive outcome. Head of Centre for WTO Studies Abhijit Das said: “They may also need to have a clear position on how to address demands (of developed countries) on the so-called new issues.” In Nairobi, rich nations, including the US, asked the WTO to start negotiations on new issues, like e-commerce, investments and government procurement, instead of holding talks on the Doha Round-related issues.
Last week, Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that New Delhi would prepare a work programme to find a permanent solution to the food security issue, apart from fighting for reaffirmation of Doha Round.
Meanwhile, senior Professor at Centre for Economic Studies and Planning of New Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University Biswajit Dhar said that the year 2015 was disappointing for India as far as developments at the WTO were concerned. According to Dhar, the Nairobi meet was a failure as it did not take any firm decisions regarding some key issues, like agriculture. “What could hurt countries, like India, more is the lack of consensus to continue with the negotiations in the Doha Round. The Doha mandate provides the best opportunity to move towards a just trading regime. In 2016, India would have to re-double its efforts to get the Doha negotiations on track. This is possible only by building strong developing country coalitions, which was missing in 2015,” stressed Dhar.