Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Commerce & Industry
14-December-2011 19:55 IST
Developing Countries Coordinate their Positions at Eighth Ministerial Conference of the WTO
Anand Sharma meets BRICS and SAARC Leaders at Geneva

Shri Anand Sharma, Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles led the Indian delegation to Geneva for the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the WTO (MC8) during 15-17 December 2011.

BRICS Ministerial Meeting

On the sidelines of MC8, Ministers of BRICS met on 14 December 2011. The BRICS group is increasingly being recognized as pivotal in furthering progress in the stalled Doha Round.

During the meeting Shri Sharma felicitated Russia on the successful conclusion of their accession process to the WTO.

Shri Sharma emphasised the key role of the WTO in keeping protectionist forces at bay and said that “international trade will play an even more critical role in stimulating economic growth and development during the current global slowdown”. The WTO must maintain its central role in monitoring the implementation of multilateral trade disciplines.

Further, he observed that BRICS is uniquely positioned at the cusp of the developing and the developed world.  “On the one hand, for historical reasons, we are home to a large population of the poor in the world, on the other hand, our people have demonstrated resilience in responding to the demands of the changing times”, he said.  He added that BRICS would be both a rallying point and a bridge between developed and developing world.

BRICS Ministers expressed concern at the existing impasse in the Doha Development Round, and committed to remaining fully engaged in negotiations with a view to concluding the single undertaking within the shortest possible timeframe. Shri Sharma emphasised that negotiations must be based on the multilaterally agreed mandates and on the delicate balance of trade-offs achieved over the last 10 years.

He exhorted all Members not to allow the development dimension of special treatment to LDCs to be sidelined and pledge to work together to resist the moves to change the agenda and the discourse at the WTO.

The BRICS Ministers reviewed the mechanism to enhance inter-bank cooperation in BRICS countries, including the Framework Agreement on Interbank Cooperation signed during the Third BRICS Summit in Sanya on 14 April 2011, for enhancing mutual cooperation. They emphasised the need for establishing a system for granting credit lines in local currencies to facilitate and enhance inter-BRICS trade

In conclusion, Shri Sharma invited the BRICS Trade Ministers to the Second Meeting of the BRICS Trade Ministers in New Delhi in March 2012. This will also be the first occasion to review the DDA after the decisions taken at MC8.

SAARC Ministerial Meeting

Earlier in the day, a meeting of the SAARC Ministers on the sidelines of the   WTO Ministerial Conference was hosted by India.

At the meeting Shri Sharma asserted that the developmental issues, particularly of interest to LDCs were non-negotiable and urged all developed countries to commit to duty-free and quota-free market access as per the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration on priority basis.

Referring to the pending accessions of Afghanistan and Bhutan,  he also urged that a fast track mechanism be created for their early accession.

Welcoming the notification of the Duty Free Quota Free scheme by some developing countries, the Ministers urged others, especially the developed countries, to implement and notify their DFQF schemes on all products of export interest of LDCs, without any further delay.

The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work together for a successful completion of the Doha Round at the earliest.

Bilateral Meetings with Bangladesh, EU and New Zealand

Shri Sharma also met the Bangladesh Minister of Commerce for useful bilateral discussions on the Doha Round and a range of bilateral issues.Bangladesh thanked India for removing all items from the negative list of SAFTA.

The New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser called on Shri Sharma and expressed the great importance that his country places on bilateral trade relations with India and the FTA for furthering trade between the two countries. He said that India was uniquely positioned to take the leadership in the developing world to break the logjam in the Doha Round.

The EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht also called on Shri Sharma to review the progress in the ongoing India-EU BTIA negotiations.

Later in the day, Shri Sharma is also slated to address Ministerial meetings of the G20 and G33, two key coalitions of developing countries in the WTO negotiations.