Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Commerce & Industry
16-December-2011 18:40 IST
Anand Sharma Asks All Countries to ESCHEW Protectionism

Addresses Inaugural Plenary of the WTO Ministerial Conference

Addressing the inaugural plenary of the Ministerial Conference yesterday, Shri Anand Sharma, India’s Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister made a strong pitch against protectionism. “In the backdrop of the global economic downturn, all countries must eschew protectionism which can only be counterproductive as it will deepen the recession and delay recovery”, he said.

Urging members to respect the mandate, he underscored the need to build on the progress already achieved. Expressing India’s concern at the impasse in the DDA negotiations, he said “We cannot cast aside the mandate that was so arduously negotiated. Nor can we abandon the processes that make the WTO a uniquely democratic institution”.

Expressing strong reservation about recent suggestions for negotiating agreements among a critical mass of members, he cautioned that this path was fraught with risk as they lacked the in-built checks and balances of multilateral agreements.

Addressing a Working Session of the Conference today on the Importance of the Multilateral Trading System and the WTO, Shri Sharma stressed the importance of strengthening the WTO especially in light of the new forms of protectionism that adversely affected developing countries.

Shri Sharma urged members to get a multilateral trade deal done, not only for the trade liberalisation and rule building that the DDA aims to achieve but also for the credibility of the multilateral trading system. Plurilateral trading arrangements, among a few, cannot substitute the multilateral system and are also against the spirit of the fundamental WTO principles of transparency and inclusiveness, said Shri Sharma.

In a reference to the gradual shift away from the development agenda in the DDA discourse, he said that “Trade cannot flourish if the interests of over three-fourths of the world’s population are held hostage to the commercial interests of the few that already command global trade.”

Today, Shri Sharma has invited key interlocutors of developed and developing countries for an informal discussion on the way forward.