New Delhi, May 14: Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Tuesday that WTO should be an engine of growth for global trade and an instrument for national development of all its members.
''Global trade is contributing to certain objectives such as raising standards of living, ensuring full employment. The WTO reforms must be made in the backdrop of these goals,'' , Mr Prabhu said as the WTO Ministerial Meeting of Developing Countries concluded here.
''The New Delhi Ministerial Meeting is an initiative by India to facilitate a free and frank exchange of views on all issues of common interest, particularly of the Developing Countries and will explore how to collectively address the challenges emerging from suggestions on WTO reform,'' he said.
Mr Prabhu said ahead of the WTO reforms, it is obligatory to consider the reality that developing countries still lag behind their counterparts in the developed world. Global trade is a means of contributing to certain goals.
''One of our shared goals is to make WTO a much better organization, forward-looking, vibrant, encompassing everyone's interests, ensuring that development happens through trade as well, he said, adding that ''to achieve that we must ensure that WTO would address the concerns of developing countries''.
WTO Mini Ministerial Meeting at Delhi is for like-minded nations and not against any country or group of countries, he said, adding that the reality of challenges that developing countries face should be borne in mind while tenets of global trade are being negotiated.
Minister of State for Commerce and Industry C R Chaudhary said it is an effort to bring together the developing Countries at a platform for sharing common concerns affecting the WTO and work together to address these.
In a statement, delegates of 23 countries, including Arab Republic of Egypt, Barbados, Central African Republic, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Jamaica, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, People's Republic of Bangladesh and People's Republic of China, said they discussed recent developments at the WTO and explore ways for working with all Members to strengthen the multilateral trading system.
The members reiterated their commitment to work towards strengthening WTO by promoting development and inclusivity for the benefit of all Members.Republic of Benin, Republic of Chad, Republic of India, Republic of Indonesia, Republic of Malawi, Republic of South Africa, Republic of Uganda and Sultanate of Oman also met here on May 13 and 14 May to discuss recent developments at the WTO and explore ways for working with all Members to strengthen the multilateral trading system.
The members reaffirmed the pre-eminence of the WTO as the global forum for trade rules setting and governance. ''We note with concern the multiple challenges confronting the rules-based multilateral trading system and agree to work together with all WTO Members to strengthen the WTO, make it more effective and continue to remain relevant to the diverse needs of its Members, in line with objectives of the WTO,'' they said.
The members also re-affirmed that the dispute settlement system of the WTO is a central element in providing security and predictability to the multilateral trading system.This has proved to be more effective and reliable as compared to its predecessor, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) .The delegated noted that Members have failed to arrive at a consensus in the selection process to fill vacancies in the Appellate Body.
''This ongoing impasse has weakened the dispute settlement system and threatens to completely paralyze it by December 2019. We, therefore, urge all WTO Members to engage constructively to address this challenge without any delay in filling the vacancies in the Appellate Body, while continuing discussions on other issues relating to the functioning of the dispute settlement mechanism,'' according to the statement. An inclusive multilateral trading system based on equality and mutual respect should ensure that all WTO Members abide by WTO rules and abjure any form of protectionism.
The members said the core value and basic principles of the multilateral trading system must be preserved and strengthened, particularly with a view to building trust among Members and urged WTO Members to adopt measures that were compatible with WTO rules to avoid putting the multilateral trading system at risk. (UNI)