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WTO meet: A feather in the cap?

Bhupesh Bhandari

The Economic Survey lists in detail the government's achievements at the fourth World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference held at Doha, Qatar, during November 9-14, 2001, after the failure of the third ministerial held at Seattle in 1999.

Not only did India resist inclusion of negotiations on investments, competition policy, labour, trade facilitation and government procurement, but also pressed for a resolution of issues related to implementation, increased market access in agriculture and sufficient flexibility in Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights for public health policies.

The efforts didn't go waste. At the conclusion of the Doha Conference, a decision on implementation-related issues was adopted. Of the 102 issues considered, the conference took a decision on 43. The remaining issues have been referred either to the negotiations or the subsidiary bodies for further examination.

The Doha declaration also affirmed that the TRIPs agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of the rights of a WTO member to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all.

The modalities for further commitments in the areas of access to agricultural markets of developed countries, export subsidies and domestic support to farmers in developed countries as well as differential treatment provisions are to be finalised by March 31, 2003, as per the work programme agreed upon at the Doha Ministerial.

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