“India’s proposal on Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS), currently tabled at the WTO, is a welcome initiative as services are an essential tool for trade. There is a growing appetite amongst members to advance the TFS agenda and efforts need to be made to engage other members on these issues”, said Roberto Azevedo, DG WTO. He further added that there are number of ideas being discussed for easing flow of trade such as: movement of persons, cross-border information flows and development and technical assistance. He was speaking at the interactive session on “Advancing Global Trade: The Role of the WTO” organized by Confederation of Indian Industry.
“We must embrace and adapt to new realities,” he said, pointing out the need to make trade better rather than limiting it. He emphasized the importance of involving MSME’s in global trading networks to bridge gaps and inequities currently persisting in the global trading environment.
The Ambassador noted with regret the slowdown experienced by global trade growth, 1.7 per cent in 2016, which is at its lowest since the 2008 financial crisis. He also mentioned the negative reaction of the global community with more inward looking policies, which he views as a setback for global trade. However, he noted the positive outlook for Indian trade due to various tax and fiscal reforms that the current government has undertaken.
Representing Indian industry, the CII President, Dr Naushad Forbes, echoed the importance of free trade and the central role WTO plays in it. Multilateral negotiations are necessary for this. There is a need to ensure that firms have equal access to all countries for trade. For this, it is imperative that countries understand clearly the concept of Most Favoured Nations (MFN) which embodies this principle in the GATT/WTO.
Industry members raised serious concerns about ‘de-globalization’ and growing clamour for protectionism, particularly in US. Reinvigorating global trade by clearing misconceptions about the impact of trade on employment and the need for multilateralism were key to addressing this very concern.
The Director General CII, Chandrajit Banerjee, who moderated this session, mentioned the need for the WTO to take the lead in an uncertain global trading environment. There are high hopes from the 11th Ministerial of the WTO which is to take place in Buenos Aires, scheduled towards the end of 2017.