13th WTO Ministerial: Global Trends and India's Stance

Image of delegates at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference discussing global trade trends and India's position
13th WTO Ministerial: Global Trends and India's Stance

The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) commenced on February 27th, 2023, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, gathering ministers from all 164 WTO members to discuss global trade issues.

Progress Report and Ongoing Accessions:

  • WTO General Council Chair Ambassador Athaliah Lesiba presented progress since the last ministerial conference, highlighting commitments to enhance trade monitoring and discussions on reducing fisheries subsidies and e-commerce barriers.
  • Accession processes for Comoros and Timor-Leste are nearing completion, expanding WTO membership to 166 countries.

Draft Ministerial Declaration:

  • Host nation UAE circulated a draft declaration covering WTO reforms, sustainability, gender inclusivity, MSME growth, digital transformation, and crisis responses. Dedicated sessions aim to build consensus around it.

Key Negotiation Topics:

  • E-Commerce: Despite addressing various aspects, consensus remains elusive, particularly regarding India's call for a moratorium on cross-border duties.
  • Fisheries Subsidies: Discussions aim to curtail certain subsidies to deter overexploitation of marine resources.
  • TRIPS Waiver for COVID Vaccines: No agreement yet on India and South Africa's proposal for expanded vaccine production in developing countries.
  • Public Stockholding Programs: Developing countries' procurement of foodgrains without limit lacks consensus among members.

India’s Stand and Concerns:

  • Led by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, India opposes a China-led investment facilitation pact and seeks a permanent solution to public stockholding for food security.
  • India advocates for resolving non-trade issues like the EU's carbon border tax under the WTO rulebook.
  • Semiconductor industry bodies' call to halt cross-border digital trade duties is crucial amid e-commerce negotiations.
  • India seeks a moratorium on subsidies by developed members to address overfishing and support local communities.

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