The 12th ministerial conference of WTO took place from 13 November-3rd December in Geneva. The WTO is the principal forum for setting the rules of international trades for the past two and half decades, it has helped reduce barriers to trade in goods and services and created a dispute resolution system however, due to incongruence in consensus,WTO is under considerable pressure to achieve meaningful results. The committee is yet to find a solution to the issue of public stock holding. India has won that there is an attempt to drive a wedge between developing and least developing countries on public stock holding and sought a permanent solution on an issue that is critical for Procurement by agencies such as FCI.

Challenges faced by the WTO

  1. Dispute settlement cases continue to be filed for time being and are being litigated a civil dialogue over trade issues persists.
  2. Technical functioning is to educate for 21st century problems in critical areas the WTO has neither responded nor adopted not delivered.
  3. Functioning of state enterprises engaging in commercial activities is distorting the principles of WTO, which prefers the private sector to operate in a market economy.
  4. Many WTO members bear responsibility for the use of trade-distorting domestic subsidies. Agriculture and industrial subsidies have caused blockage in the system and prompted  protectionist reactions in a number of WTO members.
  5. Blockage and deadlock in the appellate body e stage of the dispute settlement system has halted the progress.
  6. The WTO lost the critical balance between the organisation as an institution established to support, consolidate and kind economic reform to counter damaging  protectionism, and the organisation as an institution for litigation based dispute settlement.
  7. For years now the multilateral system for the settlement of trade disputes has been under intense scrutiny and constant criticism. The United States has systematically blocked the appointment of new appellate body members (judges).and de facto impeded the work of the WTO appeal mechanism.

  What needs to be done? 

  1. To accommodate conflicting economic models of markets versus state all WTO members will have to accept the operative assumption of a rules based order steered by a market economy,the private sector and competition.
  2. WTO should recognise the food security concern will not disappear and has launched negotiation to address the intervening issues of agricultural subsidies and market access.
  3. A credible trading system requires a dispute settlement system that is accepted by all.
  4. WTO rules are outdated in a number of areas. New rules are required to keep pace with changes in the market and technology. Rules and discipline on topics ranging from trade distorting industrial subsidies to digital trade require updates.
  5. Balance in organisation should be restored through serious negotiation in an open ended plurilateral manner that cannot be blocked by those who do not want to move ahead.
  6. On the negotiating tables and issues related to the liberalization of the goods and services trade and of course guarantee for free flow of data across international boundaries all aim at facilitating expansion of business of e-commerce firms.


WTO should acknowledge that free trade has been an important engine of growth for developing countries in Asia, and it could be promoted in the global trading regime. The developing country should be allowed to limit imports more than developed countries, under special and differential treatment,then only a fair WTO reform could be achieved.

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