Recently this month, the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Roberto Azevêdo, visited India. This visit comes in the background of shaking framework of global trade rules. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) received a death blow by the Donald Trump, the US President.
The 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation in Nairobi in 2015 failed yet again to arrive at some a decision on the Doha Round negotiations which started in 2001. Such instances are increasingly making the WTO irrelevant since the organisation does not have a work programme.
The issues concerning developing and least developed countries have been put on the backburner. The rules in areas of intellectual property rights and agriculture are skewed in favor of developed countries. India’s Public Distribution System (PDS), public stockholding of food and agricultural subsidies are case in point. The critical element in undertaking procedures like trade facilitation is the availability of financing facilities for modifications in customs procedures and facilities. In fact, this is the biggest challenge for the WTO which does not have a financing arm and face problems in garnering financial resources.
India has revoked a majority of its 73 BITs unilaterally. The new model BIT that is being adopted would be the basis of its future BITs and it will vastly truncate the powers of the foreign investor and their right to initiate disputes.
The 11th Ministerial Conference of WTO to be held in Buenos Aires in December 2017 is cherry picking inclusion of issues like electronic commerce and investment.