Lack of consensus: WTO ministerial ends in stalemate

Thousands of protesters took to the streets Tuesday in Buenos Aires to protest the meeting of the World Trade Organization

Thousands of protesters took to the streets Tuesday in Buenos Aires to protest the meeting of the World Trade Organization

KAZINFORM Ministers and heads of delegations of 40 World Trade Organization Member States held a meeting on investment facilitation issues during the Eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, the Kazakh MFA press service says.

WTO members wrapped up their 11th ministerial conference on Wednesday without any decision on important issues in the ongoing trade negotiations, albeit with a commitment from members to secure a deal on fisheries subsidies which delivers on UN's Sustainable Development Goal by the end of 2019. A major country stated categorically that they can not agree to any permanent solution on the public stockholding at MC11.

The country had the support of over a 100 WTO member countries on all agriculture issues including proposal to set the direction of agriculture reforms by first eliminating the most trade-distorting form of subsidies used mainly by the rich developed countries.

As an interim measure, the WTO members at the Bali ministerial meeting in December 2013 had agreed to put in place a mechanism popularly called the Peace Clause and committed to negotiate an agreement for permanent solution at MC11 in Buenos Aires.

Earlier, at the Conference, the U.S. refused to take any decision on the food subsidy issue thus derailing India's expectations of securing a better deal for its food security programme.

WTO talks end in stalemate as India, US play hardball

Work programmes are the guiding principles for an issue to move forward by the next ministerial while a ministerial declaration is a text with legal sanctity.

However, the existing mandates and decisions ensure that work will go forward and members will continue to work on issues such as the permanent solution on public stockholding for food security purposes, agricultural Special Safeguard Mechanism and agricultural domestic support. It was also chose to continue with the non-negotiating mandate of the existing work programme on E-commerce.

The 53-member African Group, as well as a large number of developing countries too, have rallied around and firmly supported India in opposing rules on e-commerce and bringing in new issues such as investment facilitation and MSMEs into the WTO's agenda, it added.

The WTO ministerial ended in a stalemate with ministers refusing to agree to even a declaration, reflecting the huge gap between the 164 members.

During MC11 India stood firm on its stand on the fundamental principles of the WTO, including multilateralism, rule-based consensual decision-making, an independent and credible dispute resolution and appellate process, the centrality of development, which underlies the DDA, and special and differential treatment for all developing countries.

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