Updated February 29th, 2024 at 17:09 IST

Government 'sad' over countries' obstructing outcomes at WTO

India and South Africa opposed initiatives to halt fishing subsidies and extend a moratorium on digital trade tariffs at the WTO ministerial meeting.

Reported by: Business Desk
Union Minister Piyush Goyal | Image:ANI
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WTO obstruction concerns: Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal expressed disappointment over the obstruction of important outcomes at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by certain nations and showed little inclination towards relenting on New Delhi's stance against extending a waiver on digital tariffs.

During the WTO ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi, efforts were made to reach agreements on halting fishing subsidies and prolonging a moratorium on digital trade tariffs, initiatives opposed by India and South Africa.

"Of course, we feel sad that some countries are still obstructing significant outcomes that could have helped less developed countries and developing countries gain confidence in the working of the WTO," Goyal told the media.

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Addressing reporters on the meeting's final day, Goyal conveyed regret over the hindrance posed by some countries to substantial outcomes that could benefit less developed and developing nations, undermining confidence in the WTO's functionality.

While expressing optimism about possible progress in negotiations, Goyal refrained from identifying the obstructing countries. He stressed the urgent need to rectify the WTO's dispute resolution mechanism, citing discussions with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

"The first and highest priority is to get the Appellate Body of the dispute resolution mechanism in place because without that all the decisions we are taking cannot be adjudicated upon," he added.

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Highlighting the absence of the WTO's appellate body for four years due to the US's resistance to appointing judges, Goyal stressed the necessity of reinstating it for adjudicating decisions. Although Tai dismissed the likelihood of an agreement on WTO dispute settlement appeals reform this week, she acknowledged progress in negotiations.

When questioned about the government's stance on waiving tariffs on digital goods such as film downloads, Goyal responded with caution, indicating a willingness to assess the flexibility of other nations before reconsidering India's position.

(With Reuters Inputs)

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Published February 29th, 2024 at 17:09 IST