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WTO dispute settlement body to be in focus at mini-ministerial meet

The current situation has given rise to demands from various quarters to reform the WTO

Subhayan Chakraborty  |  New Delhi 


A deadlock in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) dispute settlement body, and the move by richer nations to deny developing ones access to certain trade benefits will be the focus of the upcoming mini-ministerial, the government says.

However, increasing protectionism and outright challenges to the multilateral trade rules regime form the backbone of the talks, set to be held in New Delhi on May 13-14.

The current situation has given rise to demands from various quarters to reform the WTO.

Sixteen key WTO economies, mostly from the developing bloc, will be present while six least developed nations will also join the talks. Ministers from Bangladesh, South Africa and the Central African Republic are set to come.

ALSO READ: India wants upcoming mini-ministerial to focus on trade protectionism

India wants the upcoming mini-ministerial in New Delhi to focus on ways to reduce protectionism in global trade and uphold the sanctity of the WTO. Come May 13, however, it will be hard-pressed to discuss global e-commerce rules, something it has avoided so far.

The impasse in the appellate body, whereby the US has consistently blocked the appointment of judges to the body, will remain priority in the talks, officials added.

The lack of judges on the seven-member body has become a serious concern since it is the principal body tasked with arbitration between nations on trade disputes. As of now, cases take more than a year to be even heard, officials said

Currently, only three judges are on the board, and one of them is set to retire later this year. This will render the body useless — each case requires at least three sitting members, an official said.

First Published: Sat, May 11 2019. 01:46 IST