When the WTO makes its eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC) at the Argentinian city of Buenos Aires, between 10 to 13 December 2017, India- being a leading negotiator at previous MCs, has some leading issues to engage with.
First and foremost is availing a final solution to the issue of Public Stock holding of food grains for food security purposes. The country is seeking permissible status to such food subsidies. Indications are that other WTO members may not put big resistance while forming a rule based support to food security oriented procurement.
Second one is the new and emerging topic of e-commerce. It is for the first time that e-commerce is introduced for discussions at a Ministerial Conference. Here, several leading countries including the US and China are trying to include ecommerce under the discussion. Some of their political allies have also joined them on this futuristic trade issue.
For India, the Commerce Ministry has worked on it only slightly late and reached the stand that ecommerce need not be integrated into the present multilateral trade system.
“India’s trading community, which is under stress due to competition from e-commerce companies, would be unforgiving if the country agrees to negotiate rules at the multilateral forum to make the going easier for foreign companies,” a trade official supporting the country’s position has elaborated.
Besides the new and old trade issues, India has a mission to save the WTO’s trading platform from the risk of being irrelevant in the context of Trump’s new trade policies. Already, Trump has signalled opposition to the WTO format and launched micro protectionist steps.