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

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Green Business Prospects

While the negotiations under the WTO on environmental goods and services (EGS) issue are proceeding at a slow pace, developed countries appear to be the most likely gainers in terms of increased market access for their environmental products. Most developing countries are net importers of these products. However, the Indian environmental industry is still in its infancy and if appropriately developed and offered some protection, could gain access to markets abroad.

General Agreement on Trade in Services

Concerns have been voiced about the WTO's encroachment into social service sectors such as health, education, and environment under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and how this may undermine national sovereignty and autonomy in social policy-making. However, most of these concerns stem from misunderstandings and lack of information about the liberalisation process under the GATS. This paper tries to dispel such unwarranted fears by highlighting the GATS' commitment structure and framework and explaining how countries can retain their autonomy in social policy-making under the GATS. However, it also points out some problem areas in this regard, tracing their source to various ambiguities and weaknesses in the GATS framework. The paper highlights the need to use the ongoing GATS 2000 negotiations effectively so as to strengthen the GATS framework and address these problematic issues.

Leveraging Liberalisation

Using the Indian cement industry as an example, this paper argues that there is a limit to leveraging liberalisation. Developing-country companies cannot match the clout of MNCs in controlling the global market. The Indian cement industry, which witnessed rapid production and capacity growth during the past two decades, has suffered a decline in exports in recent years as MNCs setting up shop in other developing countries retained their hold on international markets.

Customs Valuation

Customs Valuation in India by C Satapathy; Shroff Publishers and Distributors, Mumbai, and MVIRDC, World Trade Centre, Mumbai, 2002; pp x+ 240, Rs 375.

Duty Exemption and Remission Schemes

Under a fully WTO-compatible trade regime, to which India is committed, the only weapon available in normal circumstances to check imports which damage domestic industry is flexibility in fixation of customs duties subject to the committed bound rates. But as imports under the export-linked schemes are duty-free, a surge in such imports cannot be arrested through the tariff rate mechanism. It is necessary, therefore, to rationalise the duty exemption and remission schemes in the EXIM Policy 2002-07 to be announced shortly.

WTO and Environment

The report of the WTO Appellate Body in the dispute between Malaysia and the US over the restrictions on import into the US of shrimp and shrimp products represents a clear move away from the understanding that GATT/WTO rules shall not regulate process and production methods, i e, as opposed to product characteristics. The report not only tramples upon the sovereign rights of states to have their own environmental protection regimes, but also goes a long way to legitimise green protectionism. It further raises the issue of the place and function of the dispute settlement system in the WTO scheme of things. Unless important third world countries like India act to prevent the dispute settlement machinery from assuming an extraconstitutional role, their trade and development cause would suffer irredeemable damage.

End of Quantitative Import Restrictions

The paranoia in some quarters over the ending of quantitative import restrictions will be proved unfounded and will die down. There will be some difficulties initially, particularly because domestic producers have been protected for so long. In the longer run competition from producers elsewhere will be beneficial for the domestic economy. This will, however, require policy-makers and other economic agents to give up their defensive attitudes and approach positively the tasks of becoming globally competitive.

India and the WTO

An alliance of diverse sectarian interests is claiming that India’s acceptance of the results of the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations is threatening the sovereignty of the nation and the supremacy of its parliament. The fallacy of this wild propaganda needs to be exposed and the people educated on the benefits of a liberal and competitive trade regime.
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