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India moots 34 operational changes to WTO

India has proposed 34 operational changes to the World Trade Organization, such as putting in place a 12-month cooling-off period before hiring any ambassador to the WTO in any roles in the organisation, resolving old issues before adding new ones, and a time-bound work programme to make dispute settlement more accessible for developing countries.

In a proposal circulated on Monday, which ET has seen, India presented the first list of ideas of its “30 For 30” discussions – with time frames for their implementation – to improve the WTO’s operations before the organisation completes 30 years on January 1, 2025.

New Delhi has clubbed the suggestions into five categories, such as WTO regular meetings, rules and procedures, and committee-specific recommendations.

It has suggested a 24-month time frame to reform the Trade Policy Review Mechanism as an enabler for developing countries to frame and better implement trade policies, than merely as a forum to criticize members’ policies, and eliminate conflict of interest in the appointment to the committee chair and staff positions; a one-time review of the work of WTO regular bodies and exploration of opportunities for the reinvigoration of their work.

ET Bureau

“While deliberations on the larger WTO reform agenda are ongoing, these suggested incremental changes could be implemented quickly, as developing a common understanding on these would be easy considering the nature of these suggestions for enhancing of operational efficiency of the organisation,” India said.

India has proposed alignment of the WTO accounting and audit practices to the UN system in terms of auditor selections, procedures and reporting, a process to review the structure of all regular reports such as trade forecast, and a member-driven process for the identification of studies carried by WTO with international organisations.

A six-month time frame has been proposed for making available the minutes of the committee meetings within two weeks of the completion of a one-day meeting, three weeks of the completion of a two-day meeting and four weeks of the completion of meetings longer than two days.

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