Economic globalisation could only retain its legitimacy if it worked for all countries, especially the poorest countries, India's minister of commerce and industry Anand Sharma told the plenary session of the seventh ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Speaking on the theme "The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment," in Geneva last evening, he cautioned that in an interdependent world, "beggar thy neighbour" policies would harm everyone; equally, lowering barriers to trade would be beneficial for all.
He reiterated the need to bring the Doha Development Round closer as it had assumed added urgency as a way out of the current economic crisis. Sharma expressed concern that the major focus of engagement in the last three months had been on peripheral issues at the cost of a candid dialogue on substantive elements in the main areas of the negotiations.
He said progress could be achieved rapidly by placing development firmly back on the agenda; tempering the demand for additional market access into developing countries by the development mandate, rather than the mercantilist expectations of rich developed countries. He also cautioned that in the process of bridging gaps, the broad understandings of the past eight years should not be reversed. He emphasised that the multilateral process had to be the basic mode of negotiations.
He said India, as a founding member, is interested in strengthening the WTO as an institution and observed that India was deeply interested in the continued growth and credibility of the WTO.
He called upon members to preserve and strengthen the WTO, an established rule-based system for managing global trade.