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WTO agreement with India to boost multilateral trading: US


 Washington, Nov 14 (PTI): The agreement between India and US to resolve the contentious food security issue at the WTO will give a new life to multilateral trading system and look forward to the full implementation of the Bali package to enhance global trade, a top US official has said.

“We’ve reached an agreement with India that will break the logjam and give new life to the multilateral trading system,” the US Trade Representative (USTR) Mike Froman told reporters during a conference call yesterday after India and US reached an agreement in this regard.

The agreement consists of two basic elements, he said. First is a specific agreement to move forward with the full and immediate implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Secondly there’s an understanding about specific food security programs agreed to in the Bali accord, he said. “We eliminated any ambiguity in Bali about the duration of the so-called “peace clause”, provided that food stockpiling programs meet the agreed upon conditions in Bali,” he said.

“The United States and India agreed to these two elements, and agreed that these elements should be approved simultaneously in the WTO General Counsel and will be working together with the WTO Director-General, Roberto Azevedo, to move forward with those decisions as soon as possible,” he added.

Froman appreciated the constructive engagement from India during the discussions leading to this agreement and also said they look forward to working with the rest of the WTO Membership to put them in place.

Over the last several months, Froman said the US has been working relentlessly to clear a path for the Trade Facilitation Agreement to move ahead at the WTO.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement was agreed to last December 2013 as an integral part of the Bali Package, the first multilateral agreement reached in the history of the WTO.

“It’s a perfect example of how breaking down barriers to trade can create new opportunities for developed and developing countries alike.

It’s estimated to reduce the cost of trade by 10 per cent for developed countries and up to 14 percent for developing countries and some have said that it could add hundreds of billions of dollars, or even a trillion dollars to the global economy,” he said. Froman said:

“In July, efforts to realise the gains of this agreement hit a snag when a small group of countries led by India, took a position that prohibited the Trade Facilitation Agreement from moving forward, along with it, jeopardising the rest of the Bali Package,”.

“But throughout this period, we’ve never lost sight of the opportunity that the Trade Facilitation Agreement presents and the Bali Package as a whole presents, to help spur broad-based, inclusive growth which is even more important than ever, in the context of recent forecasts in continuing geo-economic uncertainty,” he said.

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