India scores big at WTO, ministerial conference sees some landmark decisions

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Minister of commerce Piyush Goyal (left) congratulates World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (right) after a closing session of WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva. (Photo: AP)

GENEVA: India changed the narrative and controlled it well from beginning to end at the WTO ministerial conference that saw some landmark decisions and the country’s image has risen phenomenally in the world community, sources said.
There was a ministerial conference outcome after seven years. There were ministerial decisions on all items except agriculture, which was expected. A total of eight or nine with landmark decisions in some areas.
According to sources, what was achieved at the WTO is it is a stupendous achievement.
The sources said India’s image transformed from being a deal-breaker to deal maker, something unthinkable a year ago.
The 12th WTO Ministerial Conference concluded in Geneva on Friday.
“We changed the narrative and controlled it well from beginning to end. The nation’s image in the world community has risen phenomenally. We have done India proud,” a source said.
“We have an agreement on vaccines, an extremely difficult decision for many countries. It opens doors for controlling pandemics better in future.”
The 12th Ministerial meeting reached an agreement on illegal fishing, without compromising the interests of India’s poor and marginal fishermen.
“Who could have even thought about it. A month ago it was not possible. On Thursday at 4 pm, it was literally dropped. And then it happened. And we had a critical role in it. Who could have imagined India as a deal maker,” the source said.
India protected its public stockholding and, at the same time, helped food aid.
Sources said the outcome began a process of WTO reform, “which will be good for us and world in future”.
The e-commerce moratorium has been extended and helps weigh pros and cons once again, the sources said.
India achieved its proposed outcomes across all pillars, the sources said.
Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal said after the meeting ended that the Indian delegation, guided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been 100 per cent successful in portraying before the world the priority issues for India and the developing world.
Goyal said the Indian delegation leveraged India’s strong relationship with the world, which the PM Modi has nurtured over the last few years.
Stating that it is a proud day for 135 crore Indians at the WTO today, Goyal said India took the lead and was at the centre of the conference.
“It turned the tide of negotiations from full failure, gloom and doom to optimism, enthusiasm and consensus-based decision. India’s efforts to bring members on a table to discuss issues irrespective of the existing geopolitical order has ensured that the world order is not broken,” he said.
Admitting that India and the developing countries accepted certain compromising decisions when the WTO was established 30 years ago and during the Uruguay Round of negotiations, Goyal said India today bats on the front foot rather than being fearful on various issues be it Environment, Startups, MSMEs or gender equality.
This is a result of the confidence of New India. India is able to build consensus & get a Win-Win outcome for the world, he said.
“Today as we return to India, there is no issue on which we have to be the least concerned, whether it is related to agriculture such as MSP, reinforcing the relevance of the Public Stockholding Programme towards fulfilling the National Food Safety Programme or PM Garib Kalyan Scheme, TRIPS Waiver, e-commerce moratorium, response to COVID and fisheries,” said Shri Goyal.
“Similarly there have been no restrictions on fishing that our fishermen were deeply concerned about, that would bind artisanal and traditional fishermen of India in the future. India has been cent per cent successful; no restrictions or terms have been placed on India or the Government, rather we have been successful in introducing checks on illegal fishing, under-reporting or outside regulation, viz IUU fishing.”
Goyal said India remains committed to supporting the World Food Programme (WFP). Citing India’s recent wheat supplies to Afghanistan, he said the government has imposed no export restrictions on WFP purchases for food security in other countries. However, domestic food security takes priority.
On the global fight against Covid-19, Goyal said the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) decision will boost vaccine equity, accessibility and affordability. It will enable ease of authorisation for the production of patented vaccines and India can produce for domestic requirements and exports.
On the WTO Reforms agenda, Goyal said the basic structure and core principles of WTO including Consensus, S&DT provisions, SDG goals, will be retained while making it more contemporary. “I believe it will be good for the WTO, and will be good for the Developing and under-developed countries in the future and foster global trade through transparent means,” he said.
Goyal said India’s motto of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ echoed in the WTO.
He said India not only raised its issues but raised the issues of other developing countries, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), poor and vulnerable with sensitivity and fought bravely for their cause.

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