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Drawing WTO Focus to Developing Countries Agenda

Friday, 17th May 2019
Hon Subesh Prabhu Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry
The Minister of Commerce, Industry and Civil Aviation of the Government India, has hailed trade as the bridge to global prosperity; and to reducing global inequalities. Mr Suresh Prabhu made these remarks in his address to representatives of 22 developing countries at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Meeting of Developing Countries.  Held in India's capital city New Delhi from 13-14th May, the 100 plus delegates reflected on ways of reforming the world trading body, WTO, with a view to making it more favorably inclined towards the priorities of developing countries.

In their two-day discussions, delegations reviewed the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism, e-commerce, transparency and notification obligations of member states and WTO approaches and principles. They crafted a New Delhi Declaration on Development and WTO, which reflected the emerging thinking on the way forward for the multilateral trading body. To ensure the effectiveness of the rules-based multilateral system, delegates called for a strong Appellate Body to strengthen the dispute settlement system; urging the immediate constitution of the current body by filling vacant posts.
 The Conference was energized by the remarks of the Director General and by the presence of senior directors and officials of WTO. The Director General, Mr. Roberti Azervedo, commended the Government of India for hosting the valuable consultation. He welcomed the initiative and called for more such consultative fora to guide future policy directions, programmes and activities of WTO. The presence of WTO Director General in person and that of his directors and technical officials indicated the seriousness of this Government of India -sponsored Consultation.

Ambassador Christopher Onyanga Aparr read a statement by Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, which spelt out the official position of the Government of Uganda on the matters of the Conference. In her statement, Kyambadde reiterated the imperative of African Ministers of Trade to resolutely address the outstanding issues in the WTO development agenda. These include: trade distorting domestic support, fisheries subsidies, cotton, and public stock holding. They also include the issue which generated a lot of discussion at the two-day Conference: making special and differential treatment more effective.

Uganda's delegation was led by the country's Permanent Representative to WTO, Ambassador Onyanga Aparr and consisted of the High Commissioner of Uganda to New Delhi, Ms Grace Akello and the Secretary in charge of economic affairs and commercial diplomacy at the New Delhi High Commission, Mr Richard Opio.