WTO should not be expanded to non-trade issues: Experts

Updated on Sep 06, 2003 01:43 PM IST

Experts said India should build up a strong case against linking WTO with non-trade issues like labour and environment.

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PTI | ByPress Trust of India, Kolkata

India should build up a strong case against linking WTO with non-trade issues like labour and environment, experts observed at a seminar organised jointly by FICCI, Indian Chamber of Commerce and American Centre on Wednesday.

Speaking on 'Benefits from WTO-Gains for India', former foreign secretary Muchkund Dubey said that India should build up a coalition with like-minded countries on important issues as a run-up to the Cancun ministerial meet scheduled in September.

He said that India had committed mistakes in the past by committing itself to TRIPs, adding that such mistakes should not be repeated in the forthcoming round of talks at Cancun.

Secretary-general of Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), a leading consumer rights body, Pradeep Mehta said that the move to link trade with issues like labour and intellectual property rights is designed by the developed countries to construct non-tariff barriers.

In this regard, he said that labour issues could be handled by International Labour Organisation, while intellectual property matters could be handled by World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

Similarly, trade facilitation matters could be looked into by World Customs Organisation, he said.

He said although the body did not have any power to ask offending countries to comply with the rules, the complainant could resort to retaliatory measures by raising the tariff levels.

Macrory said the United States and Europe have a good record of compliance with the rulings of the WTO body.

Chief editor of Financial Express, Sanjaya Baru said WTO was the only body which would help India in increasing its share in the global trade.

Besides multilateral bodies like WTO, India should enter into bilateral and regional trading arrangements, he said.

On the issue of market access, he said even if the Cancun round of talks failed, there is no chance of WTO breaking up as a multilateral body.

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