Recently, the 11th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization ( WTO Member Countries ) was held in Buenos Aires. It discussed the future of the multifaceted aspects of global trade. In the conference, many countries disagree with the way America has talked about new rules for agricultural subsidies, not supporting unstable fisheries and regulation of e-commerce.
Key discussions of the conference
India and its allies want commitments on public storage, minimum support prices and food security that were articulated at the Ministerial Conference in Bali in 2013 and in Nairobi in 2015. Under the Bali convention, even if the government deposits more than the established standard of 10% of public procurement, it will not be processed. America strongly objected to this. Many countries in Africa are demanding exemptions for the purchase of rice and wheat along with other food items. India says that a large population of it is below the poverty line. A buffer stock of food grains is essential to provide food to this population. Under the agreement, India cannot export if the buffer stock is in excess.
Developing countries are demanding that rich countries reduce their subsidies on agriculture. Whereas the US, European Union, Japan, Canada and Australia want e-commerce and investment facilitation to be promoted. Developing countries consider it a step taken in the interest of multinational companies against small sellers.
World Trade Organization and Developing Countries Meeting in World Trade Organization
Developed countries are subsidizing their agriculture sector up to 70-80%. Developed countries say that if India asks them to reduce agriculture-subsidies, then in return it will have to fix a maximum limit on the minimum support price for its crops, and if it does not do so, it may have to pay a fine. Other developing countries are with India on this issue. In this regard, about 100 countries have jointly presented a proposal under the leadership of India and China. All these countries are not ready to accept the 10% agro-subsidy limit imposed by developed countries.
Apart from public storage of food grains by developing countries including India, the issue of subsidies related to fertilizers, seeds, pesticides and irrigation to farmers is a major topic. All developed countries including the US, European Union say that this attitude of India and other developing countries is against the principles of free market behavior. Whereas India says that under the Ease of Doing Business Agreement signed in 2014, it has the right to keep the buffer stock until a permanent solution is found.
Regarding the crisis related to the existence of the World Trade Organization, the President of America spoke of a multilateral institutional framework. It was also discussed to find another way to resolve trade related disputes between the member countries of this organization. The US has also banned the filling of vacancies in the organization's appellate bench.
It became clear at the conference that the protectionist policy of the US President would begin to appear on the ground.
Now the challenge for WTO member states is to counteract the benefits of globalization of trade before countries moving towards protectionism and further reduce its temporary negative aspects.
Based on an editorial published in 'The Hindu'.
This Geneva-based organization was formed on 1 January 1995. As of 2016 it had 164 countries as its members. Its purpose is to promote free and smooth trade between different countries.