Informal WTO ministerial meeting begins; 52 nations participating

NEW DELHI, Mar 20: Delegates from as many as 52 countries, including the US and China, are participating in the informal meeting of the WTO being held here today amid increasing protectionism in global trade.
India has called this meeting to explore options to reinvigorate the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Welcoming the participants, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu hoped that the meeting will provide opportunity to the participating countries to engage in free and frank discussions.
The ministry said in a statement that delegations from 52 countries including WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo are participating in the discussions. Ministers and Vice Ministers from 27 countries are part of the delegations.
“All heads of delegations appreciated the Commerce Minister’s initiative in calling this meeting and providing political guidance for the work in the WTO,” it added.
Informal discussions will continue through out the day and the delegates will explore in detail the option for reinvigorating the WTO.
Expressing concerns over increasing protectionism, Azevedo has said: “There was the announcement by the US of new tariffs on steel and aluminium. In response, we also heard announcements of other potential trade restrictive actions by numerous other economies. This is of real concern. The risk of escalation is clear.”
He said that instead of escalating tensions, the WTO member countries need to find ways to resolve issues hampering global trade constructively.
The meeting assumes significance as the global trade appears fragile with certain developed countries threatening to retaliate the duty hike on steel and aluminium products by the Trump administration. (PTI)