WTO Informal Ministerial Meeting at Marrakesh

At an informal ministerial gathering in Marrakesh took place on on 9-10 October. It was hosted by Morocco and Argentina.

The meeting was held in preparation for the Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) of the WTO scheduled to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 10 to 13 December 2017.

Ministers and delegates of 35 WTO member countries exchanged views on what could be realistically achieved and the possibilities for compromise. The objective of the informal gathering was to provide political impetus to the negotiations and guidance on potential outcomes.

The meeting was attended by over 30 delegations, from different regions and representing all levels of development.

India in this Meeting:

The Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu attended an Informal WTO Ministerial Gathering in Marrakesh, Morocco.

He led discussions on behalf of the developing world and reiterated commitment to the Doha Round. He referred to the agreed objectives of the agriculture negotiations in the Doha Round and called for continuation of the reform process and to avoid further widening and perpetuation of the imbalance between developed and developing countries.

He pointed out that any meaningful reform in agriculture must first seek to reduce the disproportionately large subsidies of the developed countries.

The Commerce & Industry Minister spoke about India’s priorities and position as regards various issues under discussion in the WTO for outcomes at MC11.

He emphasized that a permanent solution on the issue of public stock holding for food security purposes must be a part of the outcomes achieved, as this is an issue of tremendous importance not only to India but also several other developing countries.

Minister pointed out that a solution on this issue would give a strong signal of determination to end hunger and achieve food security, as mandated in the UN Sustainable Development Goal 2.

Emphasizing on the importance of special and differential treatment for developing countries, the Commerce & Industry Minister said India would be willing to engage on proposals that recognized this right for all developing countries without exception.

He pointed out that in India, the total number of people dependent on agriculture in one way or another is close to 600 million, with nearly 98 per cent of Indian farmers being low income or resource poor and mostly engaged in subsistence farming. Under such circumstances, it was imperative for India to balance trade liberalization with the need to protect the livelihood of its farmers.