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

Articles By WTO

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.

Doha Declaration and Agriculture in Developing Countries

Developing countries had hoped that the Agreement on Agriculture negotiated as part of the Uruguay Round and signed at Marrakesh in 1994 by 120 countries would open up export markets for their products in the developed countries. In the past six years, however, these countries have found that several asymmetries and inequities in the agreement were not conducive to their interests. These concerns were voiced at several meetings and the WTO was urged time and again to first attend to these implementation issues before widening the scope of the WTO at the Fourth Ministerial Conference. This article discusses the progress reflected in this regard in the Doha declaration.

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.

Competition Policy: India and the WTO

The Competition Bill which is before parliament has assumed an international dimension as well as a new sense of urgency in view of the decisions at the WTO Ministerial Conference at Doha. An examination of the Bill and the working of India's competition policy in relation to international practice and the likely direction of eventual WTO negotiations after 2003.

TRIPS, Product Patents and Pharmaceuticals

Participants in the international debate on patents and pharmaceuticals have begun exploring two distinct sets of TRIPScompliant options/mechanisms that would enable patients in the developing world to access new treatments at affordable costs. The first set relates primarily to 'global' ailments, where R and D is already supported by the north, and includes options such as compulsory licensing, 'tiered' pricing and national drug price regulations. The second set of mechanisms is aimed at 'creating markets' for treatments relating to poor country-specific ailments in a manner that allows affordability without endangering incentives to future research and innovation.