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India invites ministers of over 50 countries for informal WTO meet in March

The issues which are not moving forward includes finding a permanent solution for food security purposes

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

WTO, world heath organisation

India has invited trade ministers of over 50 nations including the US, China and Pakistan to discuss key issues related with areas like agriculture and services on March 20 here, government officials on Friday said.

This would be an informal meeting of the WTO members and India is expecting representatives from every country in the deliberations, besides (WTO), Roberto Azevedo.

"Members would be discussing issues which are creating hurdles in progress of negotiations in the multi-lateral body," the officials said.

The issues which are not moving forward includes finding a permanent solution for food security purposes; trade facilitation measures to push services trade and appointment of members in the WTO's dispute settlement body.

The meeting would try to find out a common ground for taking multi lateral negotiations, which hit a road block at Buenos Aires in December last year, forward.

"India would also seek guidance of the member nations on how to move forward on the issues of agriculture and services," the official said adding the effort would be to have an interactive deliberations to ensure free flow of ideas.

At the end of the meeting, there would be a chair's summary, which reflect the discussions and agenda on which there would be near consensus. As host, Indian commerce minister Suresh Prabhu will be the chair.

Key WTO trade ministries from both rich and developing economies are expected to particpate. Besides, representatives have also been invited from the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and several African countries.

The meeting has been convened by India in the aftermath of failure of the trade talks at Buenos Aires last year on account of differences among the members of the World Trade Organisation.

India has been keenly pushing agriculture issues and has also been raising its voice against bringing new issues, especially those which are not directly linked to trade, on the negotiating table.

The talks at the WTO's 11th ministerial conference 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.

The four-day conference in Argentina, which ended without a ministerial declaration or any substantive outcome, did manage to make some feeble progress on fisheries and e- commerce by agreeing to work programmes.

A dejected Azevedo expressed disappointment over the way the negotiations progressed and called for soul-searching among the member countries.

First Published: Fri, February 16 2018. 20:43 IST