Re-Energising Doha: A Commitment to Development

 

Ministerial Meeting
New Delhi - 3-4 September 2009

Background

Following the impasse in the talks at the mini-Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) held in July 2008, the general opinion amongst WTO Members was that the negotiations should resume at the earliest opportunity. Informal small group discussions took place in September 2008. Multilateral discussions resumed at the WTO in October 2008 and continued through the month of November.

2.   The Director General (DG), WTO made a strong push for convening another Ministerial meeting in December 2008 for finalising modalities for Agriculture and Non­-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA). Several Members, including India, expressed their reservations on calling Ministers to Geneva with so many issues remaining unresolved.

3.   The Chairs of the Negotiating Groups on Agriculture and NAMA brought out the fourth revisions of draft modalities for Agriculture and NAMA on 6 December 2008. These texts are yet to be discussed at the WTO.

4.     The DG subsequently decided against convening a Ministerial. He proposed the resumption of work in the Negotiating Groups early in 2009, using as a starting point, the revised draft modalities for Agriculture and NAMA that were issued on 6 December 2008.

Political Calls for Resumption of the Doha Round

5.   The talks are yet to resume formally after the winter break in December. Over the last few months, the Doha Round has been on the agenda of several major international meetings, namely, the meetings of the G-20 (Washington, 15 November 2008 and London, 2 April 2009); Cairns Group (Bali, Indonesia, 7-9 June 2009); Trade Ministers (Paris, 24-25 June 2009); G-8 plus (L'Aquila, 8-10 July 2009); and APEC Trade Ministers (Singapore, 21­22 July 2009). At each of these meetings, leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Doha Round and called for its early conclusion. At the last two meetings, leaders set a deadline of 2010 for concluding the Doha Round. The general view has been that conclusion of the Doha Round would help to keep trade open.

Objective of the Delhi Meeting

6.   The pronouncements by Ministers and Heads of State and Governments at these meetings signal considerable political enthusiasm for an early conclusion of the Doha Round.

7.   The Delhi meeting would be the first occasion since July 2008 that Ministers representing practically all shades of opinion and interests, in groups such as the G-10, G­33, G-20, NAMA-1 1, Least Developed Countries (LDCS), Small and Vulnerable Economies (SVE), African Group, Cotton-4 and others would come together. The Delhi Ministerial meeting is intended to use the expression of broad-based international political support to remove the impediments coming in the way of multilateral discussions and to provide clear directions to negotiators to re-energise the multilateral process at the WTO.

8.   This meeting is an informal Ministerial meeting convened by India and should be distinguished from Ministerial meetings which are convened by the WTO. It is intended to invite all major players or their group representatives to come together to resolve to re­energize the multilateral process at the WTO.

India's Stand

9.   India is committed to a rule-based multilateral trade regime that is fair and equitable. Multilateralism best serves the needs of developing countries and must be strengthened particularly in this time of crisis. An early conclusion of the Doha Round is necessary to support the Least Developed Countries and Small and Vulnerable Economies as well as to give a stimulus to the global economy.

10.  India has always been a strong protagonist of the multilateral trading system. We have consistently maintained that an early conclusion of the Doha Round is in our by interests. After all, this is a Development Round: the ones with most at stake are the developing countries. India volunteered to host this meeting to forge a broad-based consensus to revive the flagging negotiations. In the past too, India has proactively supported and sought to energise the Doha Round. In 2005, India hosted a meeting of the G-20 alliance of developing countries and later, in 2007, India organized and hosted a conference on "Saving Doha and Delivering on Development".

11.  India has consistently maintained that we support the resumption of the multilateral negotiations at an early date so as to bring the Development Round to closure. Together with many other countries, our stand has been that:

·          The draft modalities of 6 December 2008 for Agriculture and NAMA should be the basis on which further negotiations are held. A substantial amount of work has gone into preparing these texts and there is no reason to review them or to introduce new elements at this stage.

·          The development dimension of the Round has to be honoured. Food and livelihood security of the poor is critical to developing countries and cannot be compromised under any circumstances. The principal aim of India's negotiating strategy has consistently been to protect the interests of its farmers and industry.

·          All issues being discussed in the negotiations are part of a single undertaking; therefore, adequate balance amongst major issues has to be ensured in the agreement.