WTO (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Economy)

News-CRUX-10     8th February 2024        

Context: World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference which  is scheduled to take place in February 2024 in has drawn attention due to India's firm stance against linking issues such as environment, gender, and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with trade.

World Trade Organization (WTO):

  • Establishment: The WTO was established on January 1, 1995, succeeding the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
  • Objectives: Facilitate international trade by promoting free and fair trade practices.
  • Agreements:

oThe WTO oversees agreements covering goods, services, and intellectual property rights.

oKey agreements include the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

  • Ministerial Conferences: Held every two years, Ministerial Conferences are the highest decision-making body of the WTO.
  • Recent MC: Abu Dhabi, UAE, the 13th Ministerial Conference
  • Position Against Non-Trade Issues Mandate:

oIndia opposes any work program or negotiation mandate on non-trade issues such as environment, gender, and MSMEs at the WTO's upcoming Ministerial Conference.

oSpecifically, India objects to linking MSMEs and gender with trade and opposes any future negotiations mandate in these areas.

  • Stand on Labor and Environment:

oIndia maintains that labor and environment are non-trade issues and should not be discussed within the WTO framework.

oIt argues that erecting trade barriers under the guise of sustainable development is not acceptable.

oIndia suggests that non-trade issues be addressed in specialized forums such as the United Nations, rather than at the WTO.