Mini-ministerial meet to find ways to revitalise WTO: Suresh Prabhu

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NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (PTI): A mini-ministerial meeting of WTO members from both rich and developing nations to be called by India will seek to ‘revitalise’ the multi-lateral trade body, Commerce minister Suresh Prabhu said.

A mini-ministerial meeting of trade ministers of some developed and developing countries is proposed to be hosted by India in February.

“The objective of the meeting is to discuss ways to revitalise the WTO, which, we believe, is the best available multilateral institution to ensure predictable and transparent system of rule-making in the area of international trade,” Prabhu told PTI.

About 40 WTO member countries are expected to participate in the meeting, which is taking place after collapse of the ministerial talks held in Buenos Aires in early December.

The meeting would be in the backdrop of rich nations forming groupings to prepare ground for pushing new issues such as investment facilitation, preparing rules for e- commerce, promoting gender equality and reducing subsidy on fisheries.

India has been keenly pushing agriculture issues at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It has also been raising its voice against bringing new issues, especially those which are not directly linked to trade, on the negotiating table.

The talks at the WTO’s 11th ministerial conference collapsed after the US went back on its commitment to find a permanent solution to the public food stockholding issue, a key matter for India.

The four-day conference in Argentina, which ended without a ministerial declaration or any substantive outcome, did manage to make some feeble progress on fisheries and e- commerce by agreeing to work programmes.

A dejected WTO director general Roberto Azevedo expressed disappointment over the way the negotiations progressed and called for soul-searching among the member countries in multilateral negotiations.

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