Following is the text of the Statement made by the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal at the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Geneva during the Thematic Session on WTO Reform:
“We are all agreed that the primary objective of the WTO is to serve as the mechanism through which international trade can become the means for supporting economic development of Members, particularly the developing countries and the LDCs.
We need to accord priority to the reform needs especially to the crisis at the Appellate body, whose functioning should become more transparent and effective, the number of suggestions for reforming the WTO could result in fundamental changes in the institutional architecture thereby, running the risk of skewing the system against the interest of developing countries.
Therefore, the principles of non-discrimination, predictibilty, transparency very importantly, the tradition of decision making by consensus and the commitment to development underlying the multilateral trading system are sacrosant.
In all such reforms, we must ensure that multilateral rule making processes are neither bypassed nor diluted.
Special & Differential Treatment (S&D) is a treaty-embedded and non-negotiable right for all developing members. The gaps between the developing and developed members have not narrowed down in decades but in fact, have widened in many areas. S&D provisions, therefore, continue to be relevant.
India strongly supports a robust WTO reforms and modernization agenda that is balanced, inclusive and preserves the core principles of the current multilateral system. We should also agree to address the existing asymmetries implicit in the Uruguay Round agreements.
In conclusion, as I hear many members’ interventions the sense I get is that most of us are suggesting that the reform process should take place in the General Council and its regular bodies, as the General Council has the authority to act on the behalf of the ministers and reforms discussions must not be held with the aim of undermining the authority of the existing bodies of the WTO.”