The new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala spoke about some issues that India has tried the global trade organisation to address for some time. She said the institution she leads will try to address the issues such as public stockholding which concern India and some other developing countries.
She also spoke on the proposed agreement on investment facilitation which India opposed.“India has tabled some objections to new issues. Notwithstanding that, some members have decided to come together to discuss them. What surprises me is the significant number of members who are already discussing some of these issues,” she said in an interview with TOI.
The new WTO chief lauded India’s concerns on digital divide, which she said must further be probed. “India said something very important on digital economy and e-commerce, the two areas in which it is very advanced. It has spoken about the digital divide, which makes a lot of sense. We should try to find out what is this digital divide.
Speaking about India’s commerce minister Piyush Goyal, the WTO chief said he had always been on point in the conversation she had with the former, adding “he is somebody I have tremendous respect for”.
She expressed hope that WTO will achieve some tangible results in the year ahead which she said will require the cooperation of each member of the organisation. “India is such a force. I have extreme respect for India and what it does,” added Iweala.
It was earlier reported that India is likely to take a more accommodative approach on the proposed WTO agreement on investment facilitation which it opposed. The backers of the agreement had advocated a discussion on the matter in the run up to the 11th WTO Ministerial (MC11) in December, no consensus has been reached on the same.
The agreement aims to increase transparency and predictability of investment measures and requirements, increase cooperation, information sharing and exchange best practices and relations with relevant stakeholders.India’s commerce ministry is organising a WTO informal ministerial during March 19-20 to discuss the way ahead after MC11 failed to reach a consensus on taking the agenda forward for negotiation on key issues.