After five days of hard negotiations, members of the World Trade Organization on Thursday got close to clinching a deal, with Indian negotiators appearing to be satisfied that the country’s interests remained protected in the face of a belligerent stand taken by developed nations, an Indian government official told ET.
The official said India succeeded in clinching favourable outcomes in multiple areas including food security, world food programme, ecommerce and WTO reforms. “A WTO declaration for future pandemic is also ready but that will be more like a statement rather than a commitment,” he said.
Negotiations were still ongoing at the WTO headquarters in Geneva at the time of writing this report.
The official said the negotiators were adding finishing touches to the pacts on fisheries subsidies and waiver on intellectual property rights for vaccines and other products.
Refusing to divulge the details of what all could find berths in the final document, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said: “This could be one of the most successful ministerials the WTO has seen for a long time.”
In the backdrop of several foreign media reports terming India as astumbling block at the WTO, Goyal said India had played a very constructive role in this ministerial. “We have been at the forefront of finding solutions to the issues that are dividing the world,” the minister said, as he addressed a few foreign journalists waiting at the atrium of WTO’s main building.
“We will take some solid decisions probably after seven years for the first time, subject to a few issues being sorted out in the next few minutes,” he added.
There were media reports in the last few days that the ministerial would fail to deliver in the face of India’s intransigence.
At 9.30 PM India time, certain issues on fisheries and agriculture were still hanging in the balance.
An official said: “From India’s perspective, even a status quo ante on agriculture will be a victory as we will continue to have the peace clause.” The peace clause signed in the Bali ministerial of 2013 allows India to breach limits on procuring food stocks. India, however, wanted the clause to be made permanent.
During the ministerial meeting that started on Sunday, negotiators from 162 nations sought to have convergence on a range of issues including WTO’s response for future pandemic and an IP waiver for vaccines, fisheries subsidies, WTO reforms, agriculture, food security and ecommerce.
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