WTO : Challenges – UPSC GS2

Challenges for WTO:
  • Doha Development Agenda:
    • Centre of disagreement between developed and developing nations.
    • The developed countries have tried to hijack the negotiations to bring about a new agenda that includes, amongst others, e-commerce, investment facilitation, MSMEs and gender.
  • Balancing the diverse and varied interests:
    • Diverse interest of 164 member countries.
    • Competing multilateral and national visions
  • COVID Impact: Global economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic further affects WTO’s effective functioning.
  • Dispute Settlement defunct:
    • Non-functioning of WTO dispute settlement mechanism, especially the revival of its Appellate body which is blocked by US.
  • The push for change in definition of “Developing country”:
    • Will deeply impinge on the status of emerging economies such as India, China, South Africa, Turkey, Egypt, et cetera.
  • The consensus-based decision-making: Which makes dissension by even one member stop the process in its track.
Way forward:
  • To continue developing country status: negotiate a longer phase-out period, or an acceptable formula based on development indices.
  • Seeking permanent protection: for traditional and artisanal farmers who are at the subsistence level of survival example fisheries subsidies negotiations.
  • Successful implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement in 2017.
  • Countering COVID-19:
    • Ensuring that supply chains remain free and open,
    • Voluntary sharing and pooling of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): By removing barriers to intellectual property and securing a legal framework within the WTO TRIPS Agreement.
    • Allow compulsory licensing and agreement of a patent without the authorisation of its owner under certain conditions.
Conclusion: There is a need to build trust among its members that the WTO needs greater engagement by all countries, to stitch fair rules in the larger interest of all nations and thwart unfair trade practices of a few.

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