Wed, 06 Jul 2022

Geneva [Switzerland], June 17 (ANI): India has been able to secure a favourable outcome at the WTO after many years, despite a strong global campaign against its farmers and fishermen, Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal has said.

The minister told the media after the conclusion of the WTO 12th Ministerial Conference here that the Indian delegation leveraged India's strong relationship with the world, which the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has nurtured over the last few years.

"Few countries attempted to create a false campaign, initially on Sunday and Monday, that India is obstinate due to which no progress is being made. The real situation has emerged before us all, the issues raised by India, on which Prime Minister had asked us to focus upon, now the whole world acknowledges that was the correct agenda and ultimately India played a vital role in arriving at all solutions," he said.

The minister said India stood strong for its MSMEs, farmers and fishermen. The voice of the poor and the vulnerable got strengthened globally by India's stand at the WTO.

Goyal said India was at the centre of WTO negotiations and India's firm stamp is visible in the outcome of every WTO meeting, adding that India took the lead and turned the tide of negotiations from failure, gloom and doom to optimism, enthusiasm and consensus-based outcome.

India's efforts to bring members to the table to discuss issues irrespective of the existing geopolitical order has ensured benefit for the world's masses.

Goyal said India's motto of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' echoes in WTO. "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."The minister 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's relations with the world have come into play to build deep alliances, friendships and partnerships across the world. India has already signed FTAs with countries like UAE and Australia and negotiations with EU, UK and Canada are at an advanced stage.

Officials said India is set to launch FTA negotiations with the EU at Brussels and any important global meet is not complete without India and its leadership.

"Our growing international stature is also a buildup to our G20 presidency this year. The PM has also been invited to attend the upcoming G7 summit in Germany," an official said.

WTO outcome after record exports, trade deals, shows that one can be pro-poor and pro-trade at the same time, officials said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's focus on the welfare of the poor has been adopted on the global stage, they said.

Officials said India successfully achieved its proposed outcomes at WTO ministerial meet across all pillars including fisheries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's focus on the welfare of the poor has been adopted on the global stage.

This include check on illegal fishing in our waters and elsewhere, no restriction on subsidies for fishing within India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and for fishing outside EEZ in the area of competence of a Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and very strict controls on overfished areas so that fish stocks are restored.

Officials said that Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) decision will boost vaccine equity, accessibility and affordability and enable ease of authorisation for production of patented vaccines.

Other outcomes on TRIPS will boost to simplified export procedures, Vaccine Maitri and help countries without manufacturing facilitiesOn pandemic response, the outcome includes template for dealing with pandemics in future, faster and globally coordinated response in future and fewer trade barriers.

It includes services as a pivot to deal with pandemic Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and health services and recovery.

On WTO reforms, the outcome is expected to make the organisation more efficient and agile, there is a revival of dispute resolution mechanism and developing countries are likely to get better trade outcomes.

The ministerial conference's outcome document has recognised women's economic empowerment and the contribution of MSMEs to inclusive and sustainable economic growth. It further notes that the issues of gender and MSMEs operate in different contexts in various countries at different stages of developmentThe MC12 outcome document has noted the importance of the contribution of WTO to promote the UN 2030 agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals in so far as they relate to the WTO mandates and are consistent with the respective needs and concerns of member countries at different levels of economic development. It further reaffirms the importance of providing relevant support to developing countries to achieve sustainable developmentOn the e-commerce front, India urged the members to re-invigorate the work under the work programme with a focus on its development dimension.

While agreeing to the temporary moratorium, India asked for intensifying discussions on the moratorium including on its scope, definition and impact for taking an informed decision on the same.

The World Food Programme decision includes "no export restrictions" on WFP purchases for food security in other countries. However, domestic food security takes priority.

On the fisheries subsidies, India took a leadership role and became the voice of fishermen of not only India but other developing nations and LDCs.

Officials said India "bravely advocated" that the concerns of millions of Indian fishermen are more important than the concerns of nations having few thousand fishermen.

"India took a bold stance against the WTO text which sought to institutionalize existing disparity and has fought to ensure that the mistakes made in Uruguay round are not repeated in the fisheries agreement," an official said.

India does not operate huge fishing fleets to exploit the resources indiscriminately like any other advanced fishing nation. India has maintained fleets of modest size that largely fished in its Exclusive Economic Zone and leaves bare minimum footprints.

India's subsidies are one of the lowest in the world, member-only in one RFMO, and is not a distant water-fishing nation.

"In India, for every fisher family we give barely USD 15 in a year while there are countries here, which give subsidies as high as $ 42,000, $ 65,000$ 75,000 to one fishermen family," the official said.

India advocated that the current fisheries agreement has not provided a level-playing field to the developing nations to address the aspirations of the traditional fishers and their livelihoodIndia showcased the true virtue and discipline followed by Indian fishermen in their practice of voluntary restraint for 61 days in a year to allow fish to grow and regenerate despite fisheries being the only source of livelihood for them.

India urged for a tougher regime for the advanced fishing nations who are indiscriminately exploiting the fisheries resources in others' EEZ and high seas in order to make them responsible for damage done by them.

Officials said India is leading the changes for the new world order. India has been one of the original signatories of the General Agreement on TradeTariffs (GATT) in 1948 and has been part of the entire WTO journey.

As India is quickly expanding its trade and exports, a working multilateral system has become even more critical. This is where India has taken leadership of fixing the system and ensuring that it delivers"India supports a future-ready WTO with a modernization agenda that is balanced, inclusive and preserves the core principles of the multilateral system. The new WTO will ensure that multilateral rule-making processes are neither bypassed nor diluted," an official said.

They said India will continue to work in the interest of developing countries including LDCs and the vulnerable section of society.

"The world has found a different level of trust in India. We are able to cooperate and elevate our issues better, both at the multilateral and bilateral level," an official said. (ANI)

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