Why in news?
On the eve of the 12th ministerial conference (MC) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, India said it will pitch for “fair, just and transparent discussions and outcome” at the multilateral body, amid persisting differences between the developing and the developed countries on a broad range of contentious issues.
- The key areas of discussions and negotiations will include the 164-member WTO’s response to the pandemic, fishery subsidies, agriculture issues, including public stockholding for food security, reforms at the multilateral body and a moratorium on custom duties on electronic transmission.
- For its part, New Delhi will push fora permanent solution to the issue of public stockholding of grains for its food security and strive to protect the interests of farmers and fishermen at the ministerial.
- Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal will lead the Indian delegation for the ministerial, which will be held from June 12-15 after a gap of four-and-a-half years. The last ministerial in Buenos Aires in December 2017 had ended in a stalemate.
- The MC is the highest decision-making body of the WTO.
- India is not in favour of extending blanket exemptions from export restrictions under the aegis of the WTO on food grains purchased for the UN’s World Food Programme, as it would restrict its policy space to deal with domestic food security concerns
About the Ministerial Conference
The Ministerial Conference is the highest decision-making body of the WTO. It is attended by trade ministers and other senior officials from the organization’s 164 members. Under the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the WTO, the conference is held once every two years. The first Ministerial Conference (MC1) was held in Singapore in 1996. The last conference i.e. MC11 was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2017.