India, Africa and WTO

  • March 15, 2017

“India and Africa are on the same page on all issues related to World Trade Organisation (WTO)”, said the Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman after the India-Africa trade ministers meeting in October 2015. This meeting would be followed by the India-Africa Forum Summit.

India and Africa are the two partners who are aligned on the outstanding issues at the World Trade Organisation and are in favor of multilateral trading systems. Miss Nirmala Sitharaman, after a round table conference in 2016, also mentioned that the purpose of the conference was to discuss the outstanding issues at the WTO, including India’s long–held position on the nation’s food security policy, especially the minimum support prices based procurement from farmers. According to a few leading Indian newspapers, even at the Bali Ministerial in 2013, Africa and India had united in seeking an interim mechanism for safeguarding minimum support prices to farmers against WTO caps till a permanent solution was found and adopted. India’s concern was that even though the interim mechanism had become available indefinitely, the WTO had not made enough progress in finding a solution to the issue ahead of the Nairobi Ministerial. There have been quite a few incidents that highlight the cordial relations between India and Africa, in regards to a few WTO issues. In 2016, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Zimbabwe, Mike Bimha said “The WTO Ministerial scheduled for December in Nairobi will be held for the first time in Africa where we will be looking for outcomes that will be of interest to both India and Africa,” briefing reporters after the 4th India- Africa Trade Ministers’ meeting on the eve of the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi on October 29.

Food security and protecting farmers’ interest

October’ 2015, our commerce minister Ms. Sitharaman also quoted “We briefly discussed food security, stock piling issues. We discussed WTO. Keeping in mind that WTO ministerial is happening in Africa for the first time…India and Africa are on the same page on WTO,” after the fourth India-Africa Trade Ministers’ meeting. New Delhi has been contributing intensely in safeguarding its farmers’ interest at the World Trade Organisation and was able to secure a permanent peace clause for the same in 2014. With the ministerial talks on the horizon, India needs to garner support and push this cause further. Mike Bimha, Zimbabwe’s industry and commerce minister said: “There is a lot of preparation on those lines…We need participation and support from India. There is an alignment on India’s and Africa’s position (on WTO issues).” commenting on the positions that the two parties will take or had taken.

“A spiritual partnership is between people who promise themselves to use all of their experiences to grow spiritually. They use their emotions to show them how to create constructive and healthy and joyful consequences instead of destructive and unhealthy and painful consequences.” Indian Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Commerce & Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman — Gary Zukav

Bimha and Sitharaman in a press conference said, because of the similarity in the two parties’ positions, this position could have be effectively represented in the Nairobi ministerial of the World Trade Organisation that December and one can talk of an effective outcome there.

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