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The World Trade Organisation needs to be protected, promoted and taken forward and India has taken a lead in this matter by hosting a mini-ministerial meeting of the global trade body to take it to a "new level", Union minister Suresh Prabhu said here today. Addressing a gathering of students and academics at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) on the subject of the 'Role of Trade and Investment in Driving Sustainable and Inclusive Growth', the Commerce and industry minister said the World Trade Organisation (WTO) had resulted in unprecedented expansion of global trade. "India is not driven by self-interest alone and therefore we invite all countries to participate... Some countries have questioned the WTO itself but that's because we need a whipping boy. In my opinion, we need to make sure that this organisation is protected, promoted and taken forward," he said. "We can revisit each aspect and make it more effective and more transparent as an instrument of bringing change...
The idea is not to reduce the quantity of trade but expand global trade for the benefit of people," he added. Stressing that development must remain at the heart of global trade, Prabhu warned against voices calling to abandon the Doha development round of WTO negotiations. "The WTO has worked pretty well in the course of the last few years and resulted in unprecedented expansion of global trade. It offers us the best possibility of addressing poverty and other issues," Prabhu said. Drawing a parallel with the United Nations (UN), the minister pointed to the fact that unlike the UN every country has a veto and attributed the failure of the Buenos Aires round in December last year to this veto. However, he expressed optimism that the US and all other countries would eventually support India's stand on food security, one of India's central concerns in arriving at a multilateral agreement. "This is an issue on which there should not be any dispute at all. Governments have to protect against malnutrition and hunger by ensuring a public distribution system for food. No one can fault this view," Prabhu said. He also flagged a "historical opportunity" for the world's economies to keep environmental issues in mind while framing economic policies. "Poverty removal and removing income disparity are an important part of inclusive growth and the other important aspect is sustainability. Climate change is a certainty and therefore adaptation is a necessity," Prabhu said. During his ongoing visit to the UK for the India-UKJoint Economic and Trade Committee(JETCO) meeting in London, the minister has also held bilateral talks with UK international trade minister Liam Fox and deliberations with leaders of UK business and industry.
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