Millennium Post

Unilateral trade curbs to risk fragile global economic recovery: Prabhu

New Delhi: Unilateral trade restrictive actions by some developed countries could derail the fragile global economic recovery which would have implications on job scenario, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu has said.
Prabhu was speaking at an informal gathering of 28 member countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Paris on May 31, according to a release by the commerce ministry.
On the recent cycle of unilateral trade measures and proposed counter measures, Prabhu said "actions and counter actions such as this could stop the fragile global economic recovery in its tracks, with consequences for jobs, GDP growth and development that would harm everyone and could also irrevocably damage the rules-based multilateral system built up with hard work over many years".
Instead of using such actions to deal with any inadequacy or unfairness in the WTO provisions, the best course of action would be deal with such issues within the multi-lateral framework, he said.
The US has imposed high duties on steel and aluminium items, which has led to trade war like situation.
On e-commerce, Prabhu said India has been actively engaging in the WTO on the sector "even though it is premature to discuss binding multilateral rules for e-commerce".
He also said the WTO already has a full agenda and India has "reservations" about the introduction of new issues such as investment facilitation in the WTO lest fundamental issues in agriculture and development get neglected.
He also said there were already a number of ministerial mandates to guide work at the WTO and negotiators have been working for years on many issues.
"Work should be resumed based on existing mandates, declarations and decisions...It would be counterproductive and harmful to the system to ignore the ministerial mandates and all the work done so far and re-set the negotiations," he added.
He also cautioned that while some countries viewed plurilateral discussions as a stepping stone to multilateral agreements, such initiatives could, on the contrary, weaken the multilateral trading system.
The minister stressed on the need to work together quickly to address the challenges which the WTO is facing at present.
Stating that trade must contribute to development, he said that India and many other developing countries have to accord priority to addressing the challenges in the journey towards greater trade liberalisation and global integration.
He cautioned that any endeavour at the WTO for reciprocal trade rules, which ignored this reality, would further deepen the divide and aggravate the disenchantment with globalisation.
Further the minister said that the dispute settlement arm of the WTO was the central pillar in providing security and predictability to the system and members should commence the selection process to fill the vacancies in the Appellate Body.
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