WTO Ministerial Conference 2022: WTO ministerial conference outcome looks hazy

Geneva: An outcome from the ongoing WTO ministerial looked out of reach on the penultimate day of the conference as divergent views remained on fish and food stockholding negotiations.
With the rich countries unduly pressuring India to accept the decisions on their terms and New Delhi not giving in, nothing substantial is expected from the talks. “We have been strongly demanding an extension of the peace clause on public stockholding and also raising our concerns against the draft text on fisheries subsidies. But the way things are panning out, nothing substantial is expected out of MC12,” a senior Indian negotiator said on Tuesday, requesting anonymity.
“If not anything else, we will continue to have the peace clause. If some developed nations don’t agree to it, then India won’t sign the final declaration at all. There will then be no declaration from MC12,” the negotiator added.

The official, who participated in all the four technical sessions including the WTO’s response to the pandemic, food security, fisheries subsidies and agriculture, said India would not succumb to the pressure of the developed countries as it did during the Uruguay round (1986-94). “We have made it amply clear we will prefer status quo ante rather than conceding the rights of our farmers and fishermen and women,” he said.
The ministerial is scheduled to end on Wednesday though there is a buzz that it could be extended by a day if nothing substantial comes out of it by then.
(The writer is in Geneva at the invitation of commerce and industry ministry)
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