WTO ministerial meet in Delhi: 50 nations to take up global trade issues

The World Trade Organization WTO logo is seen at the entrance of the WTO headquarters in Geneva (Photo: Reuters)

The government said on Sunday that 50 nations will engage in free and frank discussions on global trade in New Delhi this week to explore the options for resolving various issues and re-invigorating the WTO.

Representatives from 50 countries will be gathering in New Delhi on 19-20 March for an informal World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting.

"The informal meeting of ministers will provide an opportunity to engage in free and frank discussions with the hope that it will lead to political guidance on some major issues," the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in a statement.

It will look at the issues both at the negotiating table and also in other areas.

Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia had said recently that the meeting would be more of an "ice-breaker" as it is being held after the collapse of talks at the Buenos Aires WTO Ministerial in December.

When asked if there would be a statement by the Chair at the end of the meeting, she had said it would be for the mini-ministerial to decide.

The ministry's statement further said: "In the absence of ministerial guidance at the Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC 11) that took place from 10 to 13 December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, it is hoped that the New Delhi meeting will provide an opportunity for ministers to explore in greater detail the options on different issues for re-invigorating the WTO."

It further said that safeguarding and strengthening the multilateral trading system was never as important as it is today, and the WTO is also facing systemic challenges, particularly its dispute settlement arm.