ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Multilevel Failure of WTO Ministerial at Buenos Aires

The World Trade Organization’s 11th Ministerial Conference at Buenos Aires witnessed multiple failures on all fronts. The United States blocked the only mandated outcome on the permanent solution for public stockholding programmes for food security at the meeting, a priority issue for India and other developing countries. But the chair of the meeting and the WTO director general claimed gains from controversial new plurilateral initiatives announced by groups of countries that seek to wipe out the unfulfilled Doha multilateral trade negotiations.

“I do not know any system that is perfect, none, not even my family,” said Roberto Azevedo, the director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), minutes after the Buenos Aires ministerial summit came crumbling down on 13 December 2017. The WTO is the best system member countries have and it works, he said proudly. The director general claimed at the concluding press conference that it was because of the WTO that protectionism was averted after the 2008 financial crisis.

Members have to do “some soul-searching,” Azevedo argued, without suggesting why it is required at this juncture. “Very important decisions were delivered in the last two meetings [the Ninth Ministerial Conference in 2013 and the 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in 2015] and we cannot do it all along, there may be moments we may not be delivering concrete outcomes, and the work goes on,” he has suggested.

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