Piyush Goyal: Farmers, fishermen protected at WTO

Union Minister Piyush Goyal affirmed India‘s successful navigation through critical issues, safeguarding the interests of the nation’s farmers and fishermen, at the 13th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference.

Emphasisng the importance of securing their well-being, Goyal stated, “I think that India has successfully delivered on the issues that were our role and has achieved the outcomes that we expected.”

The Union Minister underscored the primary objective of shielding the agricultural and fisheries sectors from any adverse consequences. “Our objective was that our farmers and our fishermen should not face any kind of harm, no crisis should come, and in that, we successfully did not allow any such decision to be taken that would harm any farmer or fishermen,” he added.

Meanwhile, on the outcomes of the ministerial conference, Goyal expressed his delight at welcoming two new member countries.

“I think it’s a good outcome. We are completely satisfied. We are delighted that we could welcome two new members. After many years, a lot of issues continue to make progress. In terms of discussions generally through the MC13, progress was made on several contentious issues that have not been closed over many years. But forward movement is always a sign of a possible closure. Going forward, India continues to retain full policy space for the benefit of our farmers, and our fishermen, and in every respect, we have been able to protect India’s interests to the highest level possible,” he said.

The Union Minister also highlighted the importance of getting the appellate body back so that “disputes can be escalated to the WTO for resolution.”

“I had said it earlier. I think it’s important to get the appellate body back so that disputes can be escalated to the WTO for resolution. Sadly, without an appellate body, no dispute can be taken to its completion, and to that extent, people do feel now it’s not worth the while to have to escalate a concern, which many countries may have on the practices of others. But given the fact that it’s not going to lead to any outcomes, a lot of countries would hesitate to get into the legal process,” he said.

The WTO Ministerial Conference 13 witnessed crucial deliberations on trade policies, with nations aiming to strike a balance between economic interests and social responsibility.

The WTO ministerial conference talks entered fifth day amid hectic negotiations on agriculture, fisheries, the e-commerce moratorium, and dispute settlement.

At the 13th ministerial conference of the WTO, India stressed that all policy options should be available for the WTO members to pursue for promoting digital industrialisation.

According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry press release, India stressed that currently, a few firms based in developed countries dominate the global landscape of e-commerce. India explained that there was a huge digital chasm between developed and developing countries, which makes it challenging to increase the participation of developing countries in global e-commerce.

India reiterated that with the digital revolution still unfolding and with the increasing diffusion of technologies such as additive manufacturing and 3D printing, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things, there was a need for a re-examination of the implications of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions, particularly for the developing countries and the LDCs.

India said that developing countries need to focus on improving their domestic physical and digital infrastructure, creating supportive policy and regulatory frameworks, and developing digital capabilities.

India’s own digital transformation is powered by its unshakeable belief in innovation and its commitment to speedy implementation. Through the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) approach, India is promoting innovation, democratising technology and fostering a competitive ecosystem for digital businesses

WTO, a global watchdog, founded about three decades ago, now has 166 member countries, including India. This year, Timor-Leste and Comoros have been added as members of the WTO. The WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) was held in Switzerland’s Geneva from June 12-17, 2022.

William Murphy

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