WTO and India

WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference: A Path Forward for Global Trade


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: MC13, WTO

Mains level: Read the attached story

In the news

  • The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) convened in Abu Dhabi, UAE, from February 26 to March 2, drawing participation from 166 member countries.
  • The conference culminated in the adoption of a ministerial declaration outlining a reform agenda to bolster the WTO’s role in regulating global trade and facilitating seamless cross-border commerce.

About World Trade Organization (WTO)

Establishment 1995, replacing GATT
Objective To regulate international trade
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
  • 164
  • India is a Founding Member.
  • Formulate rules for trade
  • Negotiate further liberalization
  • Settle disputes
  • Assist developing countries
  • Cooperate with major economic institutions
  • Non-Discrimination
  • Most Favored Nation
  • National Treatment
  • Reciprocity
  • Predictability through Binding Commitments
  • Transparency
  • Encourage Development and Reforms
Important Trade Agreements
  • Agreement on Agriculture (AoA),
  • Agreement on TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights),
  • Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS),
  • Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT),
  • Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS),
  • General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) etc.
WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA)
  • Negotiated during Uruguay Round (1995)
  • Aims to reform trade in agriculture
  • Allows support for rural economies with fewer trade “distortions”
  • Focuses on improving market access, reducing subsidies, and eliminating export subsidies

Subsidies Types:

  1. Green Box – No distortion in trade
  2. Amber Box – Can distort production and trade (subject to limits)
  3. Blue Box – Subsidies linked to production-limiting programs
Most Favoured Nation Clause
  • Ensures non-discriminatory trade
  • Prevents discrimination among trade partners
  • First clause in GATT
  • Special trade statuses extended to all WTO members

Key Decisions at MC13

  • Dispute Settlement System: Member countries reaffirmed their commitment to establishing a fully functional dispute settlement system by 2024.
  • Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT): Emphasis was placed on enhancing the utilization of S&DT provisions to support the development objectives of developing and least developed countries (LDCs).

Challenges to Multilateral Trading Order

  • Rising Protectionism: Developed economies, amid growing domestic pressures, have exhibited a propensity towards protectionist policies, challenging the prevailing globalized trade paradigm.
  • Supply Chain Disruptions: Ongoing conflicts and sanctions have disrupted global supply chains, necessitating a reassessment of trade norms to ensure resilience and efficiency.
  • Development Disparities: Concerns persist regarding the equitable treatment of nations, with attention directed towards mitigating disparities between richer nations and LDCs.

India’s Approach

  • Public Stockholding (PSH) Programme: India advocated for a resolution concerning the PSH program, crucial for ensuring food security. The program enables the procurement and distribution of essential food grains to millions of beneficiaries at subsidized rates.
  • Fisheries Subsidies: India proposed measures to regulate fisheries subsidies, advocating for support to poor fishermen within national waters while curbing subsidies for industrial fishing in international waters.
  • E-commerce Customs Duties: India pressed for the removal of the moratorium on customs duties for cross-border e-commerce, citing the need to safeguard revenue generation in the digital trade landscape.


  • Agriculture: MC13 witnessed the formulation of a text addressing agricultural issues, marking a significant milestone after decades of negotiations.
  • Fisheries: Progress towards consensus on fisheries regulations was noted, with expectations of finalization by mid-year.
  • E-commerce Duties: Despite efforts, the exemption from customs duties for e-commerce transactions was extended for an additional two years, disappointing several developing economies.


  • The outcomes of MC13 underscore the imperative for collaborative efforts to address pressing challenges in global trade.
  • While strides were made in certain areas such as agriculture and fisheries, unresolved issues surrounding e-commerce and development disparities persist.
  • As nations navigate the evolving trade landscape, sustained dialogue and concerted action are essential to foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth worldwide.

Try this PYQ from CSE Prelims 2015:

The terms ‘Agreement on Agriculture’, ‘Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures’ and Peace Clause’ appear in the news frequently in the context of the affairs of the:

(a) Food and Agriculture Organization

(b) United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change

(c) World Trade Organization

(d) United Nations Environment Programme


Post your response here.
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