Statement of India delivered by Ambassador & PR to the WTO at the Informal TNC/HODs meeting held on 12 October 2020 Statement of India delivered by Ambassador & PR to the WTO at the Informal TNC/HODs meeting held on 12 October 2020

Statement of India delivered by Ambassador & PR to the WTO at the Informal TNC/HODs meeting held on 12 October 2020

Informal TNC and HoDs Meetings

October 12, 2020


Statement by India –Delivered by Ambassador & PR to the WTO

            Thank you, DDG Agah and good afternoon colleagues. Let me place on record our appreciation to all four DDGs and GC Chair in taking forward this organization smoothly during the transition period. Thank you Chair, for convening this meeting of the TNC and HODs and thank you for your opening remarks. We also thank the Chairs of the Negotiating Groups on Rules, Agriculture, Development and DSB for their reports.

State of Play

2.    Chair, as you have mentioned, the pandemic has plunged the global economy into recession. Magnitude of this may vary across economies but there is unanimity in various forecasts that the global economy including global trade will shrink. Economists predict that the world will experience a “K-shaped recovery”, with a “v-shaped recovery for the wealthy and a struggle for everyone else.” The fall-out of the crisis will be most severely felt in developing countries including LDCs with wide-spread challenges of food and livelihood security.

3.    The pandemic has also brought out the inherent weaknesses and inequalities in the global economic system. We must treat Covid-19 not only as a crisis to be managed, but an opportunity to identify and address the structural barriers in the way forward for  a more inclusive, equitable and resilient future for all. The need of the hour is a short-term package of effective measures to address the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic, and a long-term conversation on how to reform an ailing and imbalanced global trading system.

4.    In this backdrop, let me share our views on the role that the multilateral trading system can play in combating and responding to the Covid-19 pandemic in the short-term and going forward:

TRIPS Waiver

i. Our first and foremost priority has to be to save lives. In this context, India and South Africa have put a proposal for the forthcoming TRIPS Council (in document IP/C/W/669) that seeks to ensure timely and equitable availability of new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices. We call upon all Members to constructively engage with and support our proposal on the TRIPS waiver.

Movement of health care Professionals

ii. The pandemic has highlighted the need for ensuring easier cross-border movement of health care professionals. Members who could have been able to mobilize more number of such professionals, as they were not short of financial resources, were not able to meet increased demand due to restrictive trade practices in Service sector. We must start working on having a multilateral initiative in this respect for an outcome in MC-12.

Appellate Body

iii. Resolution of the crisis in the Appellate Body must precede other reforms. We must engage to restore multilateral, effective and independent two-tier dispute resolution system.

On Special &Differential Treatment (S&DT)

iv. These provisions continue to be a non-negotiable right of developing countries, for which we have already paid for. We strongly support the G90 proposals contained in the document JOB/TNC/79 and urge Members to work towards a meaningful outcome in this regard by MC12.


v. Job-losses in the services and manufacturing sectors on account of Covid-19, will increase the pressure on agriculture as a source of livelihood. Meaningfully addressing the challenge will require Members to look beyond the trade prism. We may have to work to combat the challenges to food and livelihood security. A first step towards this would be to work towards levelling the playing field in agriculture by addressing the existing asymmetries in entitlements. An immediate response to the food security challenge would to be deliver an effective outcome on the mandated issue of a permanent solution for Public Stockholding for food security purposes (PSH) at MC12. India associates itself with the G-33 statement on the priorities of developing countries in agriculture negotiations.

Fisheries negotiations

vi. There is a lot desired from those who provide large subsidies, both in value and on per capita basis. There may not be a second thought on S&DT for developing countries who need it and for LDCs as agreed to by our Leaders in SDG 14.6. This is a very sensitive issue involving livelihood of millions of marginal fishermen. The process leading to conclusion has to be fair, transparent and inclusive.


vii. The pandemic has accelerated the shift to a digital economy and also brought out the digital divide. The urgent need, therefore, is to build the capacity in areas such as digital skills and digital infrastructure, rather than negotiating binding rules on e-commerce in a plurilateral framework. Making rules at this stage will only freeze the non-level playing field in support of existing players and against the interests of new players from developing countries. It is all the more important to understand the scope of the existing temporary moratorium on custom duty on electronic transmission, its potential impact on the sustainability of the domestic industry and negative impact on job creation and revenue generation. We must move forward by reinvigorating the mandated work under the 1998 Work Programme on e-commerce in various Councils.

5.   To conclude Chair, in the run-up to MC12, our priority should be to work cohesively to put in place an outcome that addresses the immediate priorities confronting the world. India stands ready to work constructively with other WTO Members to protect human life and work towards restoring inclusive and sustainable global economic growth.

            Thank you, Chair.