In the rapidly evolving stage of world trade, India needs to redefine its role from one that reacts to events, to one that shapes the same. The challenges to this are many: India is currently facing a spate of disputes at the WTO; its status as a developing country entitled to special and differential treatment is being questioned by a few countries, and; the development agenda for WTO reform on issues ranging from services to agriculture set forth at the Doha Round in 2001, remains unfinished.
Since the 11th Ministerial Conference in 2017, the format for negotiations at the WTO has also changed with the mushrooming of 'joint ministerial grounds'- which are informal groups dedicated to discussions on E-commerce, Investment Facilitation, Domestic Regulation in Services, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). India has been sceptical about engaging with such issues, the concern being that when there is unfinished business under the WTO's Doha Agenda, Members cannot divert attention to new issues without a clear mandate.
India needs to develop a clear strategy to address each of these challenges. This article discusses a few options that India could consider in reshaping its vision and role in the world of trade.
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