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

DohaSubscribe to Doha

What Happened at Doha?

India has been singularly successful in achieving its objectives in Doha - in securing primacy for implementation problems, in bringing the anti-dumping agreement to the negotiating table, in getting a waiver from the agreement on TRIPS in times of public health emergencies and creating the opportunity for protection of geographical indications and traditional knowledge, in ensuring exemption for integrated textile products from anti-dumping action and the negotiation of textile tariff peaks, in keeping core labour standards out of the purview of WTO and in postponing negotiations on the four Singapore issues. The only area where it had to compromise to some extent was in respect of trade and environment.

A Maturer WTO

The biggest gain for India from the fourth ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation that concluded at Doha on November 14 is that a fresh round of trade negotiations has been kicked off. It is also to India’s advantage that the Doha meet has incorporated into the WTO agenda several concerns of developing countries and by doing so promises to take the process of globalisation and global integration ahead. India played a proactive role in the negotiations. Although it could be argued that trade minister Maran and his team displayed more vigour in pushing what have come to be identified as India’s national postures than in correctly identifying what indeed are our national interests, there is no gainsaying that India played an important role in securing a major achievement of the summit – developing country assertion of their interests.

Wrong on WTO

One of the most significant events scheduled to take place at the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation at Doha, Qatar, is the formal entry of China into the trade body, along with a few other nations. China is one of the world’s largest traders, capable of using its enormous imports to exert influence on foreign governments. Such a country has been campaigning hard to find its way into the WTO and has made remarkable concessions to the US and the European Union to obtain their agreement to its inclusion among WTO members. Indian politicians who demand that India should walk out of the WTO if the Doha meet launches a new round of trade talks ignoring India’s opposition to such a move would do well to ponder over the imperatives that drove China to yield the significant concessions that it has, in order to gain membership of the multilateral trade organisation. The simple fact is that multilateral rules, rule making and rule enforcement are of great help to countries that seek to gain from trade. In the absence of such rules and mechanisms to enforce them, countries would have to depend on bilateral deals. Apart from increasing transaction costs, bilateral dealings would also prove more iniquitous for India, whose share in world exports is all of 0.7 per cent, given the great disparity in economic size or trade volumes between India and its major trading partners.

WTO Work Programme on E-Commerce

A possible negotiating strategy on e-commerce at the Doha Ministerial for developing countries such as India which, despite typical infrastructural weaknesses, have demonstrated a strong growth potential in e-exports.
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