The Geneva Ministerial Conference of the WTO and Later Developments

The need to transfer environmentally sound technologies and products, in specific cases at fair and reasonable terms to developing countries was also stressed.

The conference endorsed India’s view that existing agreements arising out of the Uruguay Round should be effectively implemented, so as to ensure that the benefits of the Multilateral Trading System flow to all countries, especially developing countries like India.

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The Ministerial Declaration clearly and unambiguously states that ‘Full and faithful implementation of the WTO Agreement and Ministerial Decisions is imperative for the credibility of the Multilateral Trading System and indispensable for maintaining the momentum for expanding global trade, fostering job creation and raising standards of living in all parts of the world’.

In a separate Declaration on Electronic Commerce, the Ministerial Conference has agreed on the need for a work programme on this important subject.

The Geneva Ministerial Conference (which was the second Ministerial Conference of WTO Trade Ministers) decided to initiate a process in the General Council, to discuss and deliberate on various multilateral trade issues raised by members.

The objective of the process is to make recommendations on these issues to the next Ministerial Conference, “Fully respecting the principles of decision making by consensus”.

The recommendations to be made will include implementation issues, issues in the built-in-agenda, possible future work on the basis of the work programme initiated at Singapore, follow-up to the high-level meeting on least developed countries and other matters proposed and agreed to by members concerning their Multilateral Trade Relations.

Interaction with Industry:

Trade policy division of the Ministry of Commerce, in formulating its stance on various WTO issues, especially those being brought up before the General Council in the process leading up to the next Ministerial Conference, has been in close touch with industry associations, expert bodies and concerned Ministries.

On the basis of the consultations held, 13 issue papers prepared by the Ministry were presented by India in different WTO forum.

The major industry associations involved in consultations include the CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, PHDCCI and FIEO. As many as eleven meetings have been held with them during April to December, 1998.

Concerned industry associations have been consulted before taking major decisions, such as joining the Information Technology Agreement. The professional Institutes such as ICAI and ICWAI have also been consulted and fully involved in matters relating to professional services.

Interaction with Academic Institutions and Experts:

Studies have been entrusted to RIS (Research in Information Systems for Non-aligned Countries), ICIER (Indian Council for International Economic Relations) and NCAER (National Council of Applied Economic Research) and the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Contemporary Studies on a range of issues, including the positions to be developed for mandated negotiations stated under the Agreement on Agriculture and that on Services in the year 2000.

On the “new” subject of electronic commerce, on reviewing the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, on examining the post-Uruguay Round structure of industrial tariffs and the question of adequacy of our BOP position in the context of Article XVTILB of GATT.

A proposal for setting up an independent Centre for Trade issues under the IIFT has been approved by the government. Recognising the need for developing legal expertise or Multination Trade Laws within the country, the Ministry of Commerce has created a corpus fund in the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, for instituting a new chair in International Trade Law and Negotiations.

The National Law School is not only assisting the Ministry in legal aspects relating to negotiations, but will over a period of time, produce a generation of young lawyers with sound expertise in Multilateral Trade Law. This will greatly enhance our negotiating capacity and skills in the years to come.

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