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Topic : World Trade Organization (WTO) and Development Agenda

GS-3 Mains : Economy

Revision Notes


  • India called for renewed focus on the development agenda within the WTO.

Development Agenda:

  • Issues faced by developing and least developed nations:
    • Access to finance and technology
    • Food security
    • Supply chain resilience

India’s Initiative:

  • Submitted a paper to the WTO General Council urging members to:
    • Propose solutions for the development agenda
    • Reinvigorate discussions on development within the WTO

About the WTO:

  • Established in 1995 as the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
  • Members: 164 countries
  • Mandate: Promote free trade through trade agreements
  • Core Principle: Developmental objectives are a priority (stated in the Marrakesh Agreement)

WTO Structure:

  • Ministerial Conference: Highest decision-making body (meets every two years)
    • All members participate
    • Can make decisions on all WTO agreements
  • General Council: Meets regularly in Geneva
    • Functions as the Trade Policy Review Body and Dispute Settlement Body
    • Oversees councils for Goods, Services & Intellectual Property (TRIPS)

India and the WTO

India’s Membership:

  • Member since January 1, 1995.

Peace Clause (2013):

  • Mechanism to address food subsidy differences.
  • Allows developing nations to subsidize farmers up to 10% without facing arbitration for four years (dispute).

Concerns of Developed Nations:

  • Large agricultural exporters (US, Canada) see high subsidies as distorting global market prices.
  • Public stockholding at controlled prices gives India an unfair advantage, contradicting free trade principles.

India’s Concerns:

  • Increased trade protectionism by some countries disguised as environmental measures.

India’s Proposals:

  • Domestic support for food security programs shouldn’t be subject to reduction commitments.
  • Update the calculation method for subsidy elements (currently based on outdated 1986-88 prices).

The Way Forward:

  • WTO needs to adapt to changing trade dynamics and remain relevant.
  • India suggests:
    • WTO bodies dedicate sessions to specific needs of developing countries.
    • Reinvigorate underutilized working groups (technology transfer, trade & debt).

Source : https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/india-calls-for-priority-to-trade-issues-that-impact-developing-nations-at-wto/article68157654.ece


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