India-WTO Negotiations- Has India won or lost?
India-WTO Negotiations- Has India won or lost?Following hectic parleys for 5 days in Nairobi, the WTO trade ministers have concluded their talks in the last week of December without commitment by rich countries for checking subsidies. Aim of these talks was to lower barriers, increase trade and help developing nations. But has the conclusion of the 14 year old Doha round been able to safeguard India’s interests? Let’s see where the truth of the matter lies.
India has won
1. Talks aim to lower barriers- The WTO latest round of talks has lowered barriers and increase trade as well as helping countries develop and emerge. Doha round of trade talks had earlier been launched in the Qatar capital in 2001 highlighting the deep divide between rich and developing nations on various issues. Some of these barriers have been lowered
2. Members agreed to commitments- Members of the international trade body agreed on a commitment to give developing nations a right to take recourse to the Special Safeguard Mechanism to protect farmers. This has been a long standing demand of India.
3. Public stockholding gives protection to farmers: Lobbying by developing nations such as India has led to reaffirmation of decision on issue of public stockholdings which provides protection to farmers.
4. Safeguard are there: Safeguards against import surges and export subsidies have also been incorporated into the agreement marking a significant victory for India.
5. India’s stand was reinforced: At the WTO negotiations, India’s sand was reinforced and protection of farmers interests were insured without succumbing to pressure from EU and US and in Nairobi, the country has ensured the reaffirmation of the Bali and General Council Meetings of November 2014 and larger coalition was still with India during the talks.
6. India to compete in International markets: Developed countries had agreed to withdraw all subsidies of export promotion resulting in India being able to access and complete in the foreign market
7. Interests of Indian fishermen protected: After the Doha round, the WTO committee coming and inspecting Indian fisheries was also rejected successfully by the nation
8. Nairobi package has benefits: Outcomes of the Conference, referred to as the ‘Nairobi Package,’ contains Ministerial Decisions on public stockholding for food security purposes, a Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for developing countries, a commitment to abolish export subsidies for farm exports particularly from the developed countries. SSM is a tool that will allow developing countries to temporarily hike duties to counter import surges and price falls of farm items.
India has lost
1. Commerce minister protests failure to reach reaffirmation: Commerce Minister Normal Sitharaman has indicated India has protested against failure to reach unanimity on reaffirmation for concluding a 14 year old Doha round for safeguarding the interests of the nation
2. Reaffirmation has been divided- India is disappointed that despite a large group AU, China, G33 and India, all insist that Doha has to be reaffirmed, there was a division in reaffirmation.
3. Agenda of Developed countries has prevailed- Developing countries are convince that the agenda for developed countries has prevailed despite their concerns. If the member rejects the draft declaration, there can be no outcome. This was the only reason NMD was accepted.
4. Reaffirming continuation of Doha Development Agenda Trade rejected: NMD which was finalised following hectic negotiations failed to reaffirm the continuation of Doha Development Agenda trade negotiations.
5. DDA has been buried: Despite the draft NMD and Nairobi deliverables on agriculture, the draft largely reflected US demands while brushing aside India’s objections.
6. Operational paragraphs regarding DDA negotiations are vague- Operational paragraphs concerning the manner in which members will deal with DDA negotiations are contained vaguely with little legal effect in paras 20 and 31 of the draft final ministerial declaration. There is no consensus among members.
7. Industrialised countries have succeeded in prevailing: US, EU and Japan as well as other industrialised countries succeeded in imposing their language and view on the draft.
8. State Agencies to stop support: State trading enterprises will stop support
9. Loss of marketing and transport assistance: This will impact sugar producers in South, UP and Maharashtra
10. No commitment from WTO members- There is complete absence of commitment from WTO members to pursue the Doha round and no guarantee EU and US will lower agri subsidies to make visa rules easier
WTO-India negotiations have reaped moderate benefits for Indian farmers. But the gains are fewer and the losses are many. WTO is sharply attuned to the needs of the developed and industrialised countries of the world. This needs to change if just trade and commerce solutions have to be accessible for emerging economies like India.