New issues in WTO important for aspirational India: Prabhu

New issues in WTO important for aspirational India: Prabhu

New Delhi, Feb 20 (PTI) Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu today said that aspirational India cannot ignore new issues such as e-commerce in WTO but it has to articulate its position without sacrificing core matters which are important. "We must work on new issues as well... The question is that how do we articulate those issues and take them on board without compromising on some of the core issues that are important for the WTO," he said here. He was addressing the concluding day of brainstorming session on World Trade Organization (WTO). The ministers speech was posted on Facebook.

The participants included representatives from industry, former commerce secretaries, government officials, academia, think tanks, civil society and trade policy experts. While most of the developed countries are pushing to put new issues including investment facilitation, e-commerce, MSMEs and gender on the negotiating table of the WTO, developing countries like India are apprehensive that it might dilute the existing agenda such as agriculture and development. Taking a pragmatic approach, Prabhu said that these issues are also of relevant to aspirational India and can not be all together ignored. Meanwhile quoting Prabhu, the ministry said in a statement that special and differential treatment should remain a critical aspect of the WTOs framework and this is "non-negotiable" for India. "While some of the new issues being raised by others may also be of relevance to India, existing issues such as agriculture are critical livelihood issues, which are extremely important for India," he added.

Further, he stated that India plays a key role in ensuring the continued relevance of the WTO, as this is in the best interest of all countries, without exception. This meeting comes ahead of the mini-ministerial conference of about 50 key WTO members on March 20.

The meeting is likely to be attended by over 50 countries representing the entire spectrum of nations ranging from LDCs, developing and developed countries. PTI RR CS SA -