NEW DELHI: With less than a fortnight left for the WTO ministerial in Nairobi, India has said that it does not want to discuss new issues related to labour, environment and investment unless the existing ones related to agriculture, subsidies and continuation of the Doha Development Agenda are sorted out.

Commerce secretary Rita Teaotia has said even though the contours of what is there on the negotiating table of the WTO is not clear, there are four issues on which India wants to emphasise-—continuation of the Doha Development Agenda, reduction of targeted and trade distorting subsidies given by developed countries to their farmers, permanent solution on public stockholding for food security and a package for the least developed countries.

“There is one group of countries who appear to be stonewalling the engagement on substantive negotiations on the issues that Doha mandated. At the same time, while stonewalling some issues, there is an effort now to introduce new issues on the table to try and expand the issues which are already on the table… Our assessment is that before we move on to any of these newer areas, there is a need to close some of the issues that are already on the table on which a lot of effort has gone in interest to developing countries,” she said.

Her statement comes almost a week after a draft declaration of the WTO ministerial skipped most of these issues and mentioned newer issues such as ecommerce. Commenting on the draft declaration, the secretary said that it has left out all the contentious issues.

Developed countries have been trying to insert issues related to investment, competition, labour, government procurement, environment, climate change, global value chains that are sought to be inserted in to the discourse. India’s emphasis on continuing with the Doha round was seen al most a month ago when Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for it while addressing the India-Africa Forum Summit.

Referring to developed countries’ theory on how India, China and Indonesia, among other emerging economies have seen very impressive economic growth rates, Teaotia said that the economic situation of the two sets of countries is different due to which the latter can’t take commitments similar to the former.


Teaotia said that New Delhi does not want the Doha Development Agenda to be abandoned at Nairobi even though there have been rough patches and difficulty in coming to a conclusion. More than a hundred countries have a built consensus on this, she said.

Second, she urged developed countries to reduce targeted subsidies to their farmers as they are trade distorting. “We must protect our farmers from surge in imports of subsidised products or sharp dips in prices. India and the G-33 have been demanding special safeguard mechanism. Some developed countries have this and this has created asymmetry,” she said. Seeking a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security is next on India’s list of expectations because the interim solution that was found by way of a peace clause in the Bali ministerial is not a final outcome.

Lastly, India wants a package for the LDCs because it already offers 98.2% of its tariff lines at zero duty for them apart from giving zero-fee business visas.


On being asked the shift towards plurilaterla trading agreements like TPP, TTIP and RCEP, she said “Plurilaterals tend to become trade distortions and this is not desirable for welfare. Our first commitment is to work in the WTO framework.” On the issue of India ratifying the trade facilitation agreement, the secretary added that India is drawing up a road map for this as there are many stakeholders involved.