It gives me immense pleasure to introduce you to the Centre for WTO Studies, coinciding with the inaugural issue of our new bimonthly newsletter: “ India, WTO and Trade Issues”. The Centre for WTO Studies – WTO Centre in its shorter form – has indeed been functioning since November 2002 in the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade with the objective of providing research and analytical support to the Department of Commerce in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on identified issues relating to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). However, the Centre has recently undergone considerable strengthening following recognition of the need- acutely felt since the country assumed membership of the WTO - for an organization that could give focused inputs based on indepth research and analysis on a continuous basis. One, trade negotiations in the WTO are an ongoing phenomenon; and two, WTO agreements have wide-ranging implications for several sectors of the economy. Hence, the Centre is meant to fulfil a long felt need, as also to ensure the much needed institutional memory on WTO issues. An Advisory Body has been constituted, and simultaneously, the faculty has been strengthened, with a wider mandate to carry out research activities, provide independent analysis, and to generate outreach and capacity building through stakeholder seminars, workshops and so on. Knowledge is power, and nowhere more so than in multilateral trade negotiations. The Centre aspires and will strive to be the best of its kind.
INDIA, WTO AND TRADE ISSUES
Bi-monthly Newsletter of Centre for WTO Studies
Vol. 1 No. 1 July-August, 2008
WHY THE MINI-MINISTERIAL COLLAPSED:
THE INDIAN PERSPECTIVE
After 9 days and long hours of hard talking, the informal meeting of Trade Ministers of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), commonly known as the Mini-Ministerial, ended inconclusively in Geneva as the Ministers failed to agree on blueprint agreements in agriculture and non-agricultural products. The talks, which began on 21 July were called off on 30 July 2008, as Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director-General, WTO, told participants there was no escaping the fact that the Ministers had been unable to bridge their differences on one key issue: the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) in agriculture, which would have allowed developing countries to raise tariffs temporarily in order to deal with import surges and price falls. On his return from Geneva, Mr. Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry, who led the Indian delegation to the talks, gave India's perspective on the outcome on July 31, 2008 in New Delhi:
Chairman, Advisory Committee Centre for WTO Studies
In this issue
- Why the Mini-Ministerial
collapsed - WTO Centre launches stakeholder consultations - WTO issues: A backgrounder - Who said what - Forthcoming events - About the WTO Centre ... 1-3
... ... ... ...
4 5-6 8-9 10
Commerce & Industry Minister Mr. Kamal Nath addressing the media after the breakdown of the talks in Geneva . 1
Commercial Interests Cannot Take Primacy Over Livelihood Concerns The primary objective of the Doha Round is to bring the development dimension of international trade to the centre stage. While there would always be commercial interests guiding trade, these interests cannot take primacy over the livelihood interests of billions of poor and vulnerable farmers in the developing world. In the context of the current food crisis and the abnormal rise in food prices, it has become all the more important to preserve and protect the livelihood security of poor farmers and the long-term food security of developing nations. In view of the subsistence nature of farming in developing countries and the need to insulate the poor and vulnerable farmers of these countries from the uncertainties in the global markets, the instruments of Special Products (SPs) and Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) were built into the Doha mandate. The July...