World Economy
0

India Blocks WTO Trade Deal

India Blocks WTO Trade DealIndia Blocks WTO Trade Deal

Several member states of the World Trade Organization voiced frustration after India’s demands for concessions on agricultural stockpiling led to the collapse of the first major global trade reform pact in two decades.

WTO ministers had already agreed the global reform of customs procedures known as “trade facilitation” in Bali, Indonesia, last December, but were unable to overcome last minute Indian objections and get it into the WTO rule book by the July 31 deadline, World Bulletin reported Friday.

“We have not been able to find a solution that would allow us to bridge that gap,” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo told trade diplomats in Geneva, just two hours before the final deadline for a deal lapsed at midnight (2200 GMT Thursday).

Most diplomats had expected the pact to be rubber-stamped this week, marking a unique success in the WTO’s 19-year history which according to some estimates would add $1 trillion and 21 million jobs to the world economy.

 Shocking Reaction

They were shocked when India unveiled its veto and the eleventh-hour failure drew strong criticism, as well as rumblings about the future of the organization and the multilateral system it underpins.

“Australia is deeply disappointed that it has not been possible to meet the deadline. This failure is a great blow to the confidence revived in Bali that the WTO can deliver negotiated outcomes,” Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said on Friday.

“There are no winners from this outcome - least of all those in developing countries which would see the biggest gains.”

But the momentum on trade facilitation reforms means it may be hard to stop and some nations have already discussed a plan to exclude India from the agreement and push ahead regardless.

 More Progress Needed

India had insisted that, in exchange for signing the trade facilitation agreement, it must see more progress on a parallel pact giving it more freedom to subsidize and stockpile food grains than is allowed by WTO rules.

India’s new nationalist government has insisted that a permanent agreement on its subsidized food stockpiling must be in place at the same time as the trade facilitation deal, well ahead of a 2017 target set last December in Bali.

But some nations, including the United States, European Union, Australia, Japan and Norway, have already discussed a plan to exclude India from the agreement and push ahead, officials involved in the talks said.

“India is the second biggest country by population, a vital part of the world economy and will become even more important. The idea of excluding India is ridiculous,” he said.

 

Financialtribune.com