“India will fight for preserving special and differential treatment for the developing nations at the forthcoming WTO ministerial conference,” Shyamal Misra, joint secretary in the commerce department, said, while adding that the country will seek to ensure that the global agency remains relevant in promoting international trade.
Special and differential treatment allows the poorer countries to reduce duties and subsidies by a lower magnitude apart from a longer phase-out period.
The fears come from a US proposal, floated a few years ago, seeking to differentiate between developing countries such as China and India and others, as well as a WTO reforms plan put forward by the European Union.
“The developing country’s proposal highlighted that attempts by some members to selectively employ certain economic and trade data to deny the persistence of the divide between developing and developed members, and to demand the former to abide by absolute reciprocity in the interest of fairness are profoundly disingenuous,” think-tank RIS said in the World Trade and Development Report, released on Thursday.
Jayant Dasgupta, India’s former ambassador to the WTO, said that the rules, which are already biased against the developing countries, were being sought to be tweaked further and would impact the poor countries more.
The report also said that the concerns of the developing countries over the proposed fisheries subsidy agreement remain unaddressed. “The latest draft was more tilted towards the resource-rich countries by advancing a clean mandate in the form of reverse SDT and thereby, squeezing the maneuvering space of resource-poor countries in the negotiation, thus casting doubts about the neutrality of the chair,” it added.
Further, there were concerns over WTO failing to address Doha Round issues, which were meant to correct the inequities of the trading system. Besides, the RIS report also called for a green light for the TRIPS waiver proposal for Covid drugs, vaccines and medical devices at the ministerial meeting.