Discussion agenda must include old, new issues for relevance of WTO: Prabhu

Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu. File photo

Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu Monday said that discussion agenda of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) must include both old as well as new issues to maintain the relevance of the global trade body.

He said that there were challenges before the global trade and their impact would have implications on the world economy.

"Today, we must agree that without WTO, we will have a problem because we need global trade...We must make sure that WTO remains intact. WTO has to change and change for the better," he said here at a programme organised by law firm Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan and an industry chamber.

Prabhu said that based on his discussions with other member countries, an agenda was being prepared which will be forward-looking, agreeable to all nations and include substantive issues.

"We cannot forget the issues that have been put on the table with an agreement of all the countries and those issues also need to be taken into account... So, we cannot forget the so-called old issues. At the same time, we cannot just forget inclusion of new issues. So, we must find out a proper substantive agenda which will be encompassing all these important elements," he added.

While developing countries, including India, want issues related to agricultural subsidies to be resolved, developed nations, such as the US, are keen to push forward new matters related to e-commerce and investments.

WTO's relevance is now under question as some countries are taking unilateral measures, which are impacting global trade.

The 164-member Geneva-based organisation deals with global trade-related issues.

At its last meeting in Argentina in 2017, the talks collapsed after the US went back on its commitment to find a permanent solution to the public food stockholding issue, a key matter for India.


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