India will be hosting the second informal meeting of trade ministers from about 20 member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on May 13,2019.
This meeting assumes significance as several countries are raising questions over the relevance of the WTO.Many countries are also taking protectionist measures which is impacting the global trade.
However,India has time and again stressed the importance and relevance of the WTO for promoting global trade.Further,India will seek to get developing countries to discuss the future of the multilateral body and the development agenda next month.
A key aspect on the agenda is a discussion on a global framework for e-commerce,an issue that is being pushed hard by the US.Even China is not against negotiations.Further,India may also be willing to discuss the issue as it had recently floated a draft e-commerce policy as part of the preparations.
Recently,India had told the WTO that it will not join the negotiations to develop trade rules on e-commerce.India fears that new rules could provide the pretext for unfair mandatory market access to foreign companies.This will hurt the rapidly growing domestic e-commerce sector,which is still under initial stages.
Further,another key element of the development agenda will be the US proposal to do away with special and differential(S&D) treatment for developing countries such as India,China,Brazil and South Africa.
The WTO Agreements contain special provisions which give developing countries special rights.These are called special and differential treatment provisions.These special provisions includes longer time periods for implementing Agreements and commitments or measures to increase trading opportunities for developing countries.
The US has argued that the better-off developing countries may be eating up the gains that should accrue to the poorer nations in the category. However,India and the others have maintained that there was a need to ensure that S&D treatment remains as they are still home to a large number of poor and vulnerable sections.