A worker walks between trucks and stacked shipping containers at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

WTO’s Existence Is Under Threat, Says Commerce Minister Prabhu

Union Minister for Commerce and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu today said the existence of multilateral trading platform WTO is now “under threat”, but India strongly supports its need for regulating trade norms.

Some WTO member countries are now questioning the accepted trading norms, and this has manifested in the form of the “most challenging period in the last 70 years” of global trade, he said.

Speaking to exporters at a FIEO event here, Prabhu said, “The very existence of WTO is now under threat. But, if there is no WTO, all countries will face problems. There will be chaos.”

India strongly feels that WTO is a must as it guarantees rules and regulations of global trade, the minister said, adding that reforms within the global trade body was also needed.

There is need to keep the WTO alive and strong for which an initiative was taken to arrange a mini-ministerial meeting in Delhi, after the failure of ministerial talks at Buenos Aires (Argentina).
Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister for Commerce and Civil Aviation

India is also trying to forge a number of bilateral trading agreements with Latam, Africa, ASEAN, Europe, Great Britain, central Asia, GCC, Far East, and China, Prabhu said. On the trade dispute with the U.S., he said India is trying to resolve the matter.

With China, India was making efforts to reduce the huge trade deficit, the former railway minister said.

The commerce ministry, in association with exporters' bodies, is in the process of preparing a product-market matrix for realisation of additional exports to the tune of $100 billion in the next few years.

He also pitched for granting priority lending sector status to exports to facilitate financing. “We also must have agencies like Japan's Jetro, Australia's Austrade, and are working on those lines,” he said.

Regarding GST refund to exporters, he said the issue has been addressed to a great extent.

Also read: U.S.-China Trade War Could Flood India With Steel