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India blocks China-led investment pact at WTO

By Rajesh Rai
Last updated on: February 28, 2024 23:54 IST
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India on Wednesday blocked an attempt by a group of WTO countries led by China to push an investment facilitation pact in the agenda of the ministerial conference here, a move which may ensure that the proposal is unlikely to be part of the final outcome document, an official said.


Photograph: Abdel Hadi Ramahi/Reuters

The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC-13) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is underway.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, along with his team, is here for the meeting, which started on February 26.


South Africa backed India's move to block the proposal.

The 123-member group led by China tried to push the proposal in the working group meeting on development and India objected to that.

"India blocked it in December last year also and in the General Council Meeting of the WTO.

"This is not an agreement as per definition. It is debatable whether it is a trade agreement," the official said.

India in its attempt to block inclusion of 'Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD)' in the WTO during the working session on development was joined by South Africa.

Both the developing countries in their submission said as there is no exclusive consensus on the agreement, it cannot be included in the MC13.

In the working group discussions on development, India pointed out that there have been many promises but very little action, on account of which the vulnerabilities of the developing countries, including the Least Developed Countries, have only amplified further.

India said the developing countries urgently needed flexibilities in existing rules.

Infant and young industries in developing countries needed support through conducive policies, incentives, subsidies and a level-playing field.

The group wants to bring the proposal through annexure-4 of the WTO under which it would be binding on only the signatory members and not on those who are opposed to it.

While all decisions at the WTO happen through consensus, it also allows member countries to form a group and have agreements among themselves.

Such pacts come under Annexure 4 of the WTO that deals with plurilateral agreements.

The IFD was first mooted in 2017 by China and other countries that depend heavily on Chinese investments, and countries with sovereign wealth funds are party to the pact.

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Rajesh Rai
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