Key WTO members set to discuss agenda at Morocco meet

NEW DELHI, Oct 4: Key WTO members, including India, will converge in Morocco on October 8-9 to discuss the agenda to be formally taken up at the forthcoming ministerial conference in Argentina, a senior government official said.
“This is a mini-ministerial kind of meeting of WTO members in Marrakesh in Morocco. The ministers will talk about the agenda which will go to the ministerial conference in Argentina,” the commerce ministry official said.
The ministerial conference is the highest decision-making body of the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation (WTO).
India is pitching hard to complete the pending agenda, which includes finding a permanent solution to the issue of food stockpiling.
The country also wants the WTO members to deliberate on its proposal on trade facilitation in services.
However, developed countries, including the US, are pushing for inclusion of newer issues like investment facilitation and e-commerce in the agenda.
India’s position is discussions on new issues could be a red herring and divert attention from priority areas.
Procurement and public stock-holding for food security are invaluable tools used in developing countries where agriculture is mostly rain-fed and markets are imperfect and not integrated.
The food security issue concerns several developing nations that provide subsidised foodgrain to their poor.
A peace clause exists till a permanent solution is found for the food stockpiling issue.
This clause has enabled India to continue procurement and stocking of foodgrain for distribution to the poor under its food security programme without attracting any kind of action from WTO members even if it breaches the 10 per cent subsidy cap as prescribed by the multilateral trade body. (PTI)