South Africa will use a two-day informal WTO Ministers' meeting in New Delhi starting Monday to push for recognising the necessity of policy space for developing countries, especially African countries, to pursue their development objectives, a senior minister said.
The meeting will be attended by six least developed countries and 16 developing countries, including China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Nigeria. The Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Roberto Azevedo would also attend the meet.
The meeting is taking place at a time when global trade is going through a period of uncertainty, with an increase in protectionism in some countries and a backlash against trade agreements and globalisation due to lack of inclusive growth, South Africa's Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said ahead of his departure to India.
"We need to shape a multilateral trade environment that is conducive and supportive of industrialisation, and supports structural transformation and economic diversification. This includes recognising the necessity of policy space for developing countries, especially African countries to pursue our development objectives and promote regional integration," Davies said.
The aim of the meeting is to exchange views and ideas on how to best address the challenges facing the Multilateral Trading System (MTS), as well as discuss issues of concern to developing countries.
There are different diagnoses of problems facing the MTS depending on which side of the spectrum a country is. The meeting will provide an opportunity for the exchange of views among participating nations on current developments in the MTS with a view to promote inclusive growth.
It comes in the wake of interactions between Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu and a dozen African nations via video link over the past fortnight. Prabhu told the participants that India wanted to ensure that Africa progresses and becomes the most developed part of the world.
The meeting will also provide an opportunity to developing and least developed countries to build consensus on how to move forward on the WTO reforms, while preserving the fundamentals of the multilateral trading system enshrined in the WTO.
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