Will hear India’s concerns: WTO DG Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Friday said India’s concerns towards protecting its food security and getting a fair deal at the ongoing negotiations on elimination of fisheries subsidies deserved to be heard and will be heard.

She said she’s hopeful of a good outcome at the upcoming ministerial conference.

Winding up her 3-day visit to New Delhi, she said India’s leadership is very important and its voice needs to be heard.

“Many people believe that voices of only developed countries are heard in the WTO and not that of developing nations, so “I wanted” to make sure that, it is not like that “during my time” and developing countries’ voices will also be heard,” the director general said.

She said she will ask WTO members to push on the agriculture issues and denied that the various plurilateral negotiations had taken the centre stage at the multilateral trade body.

“One or two outcomes, it will be good….I’m hopeful of a good outcome at MC12 (ministerial council meeting) and felt a lot of support from the Indian side,” she told reporters after her meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, external affairs minister S Jaishankar and commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal.

She described her meeting with Modi as positive.

“I had a very good meeting with the PM. India is a leader with strong voice at the WTO. We spoke of strengthening the organisation and he said how the multilateral trading system should also work for developing countries,” she said.

On the upcoming ministerial conference next month, she said: “I don’t know what deliverables will be there but there is a spirit of support on fisheries.”

The WTO aims to finalise disciplines to eliminate subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, in the ministerial conference in December.

On fisheries subsidies agreement negotiations, she said the members have given the proposal “a go” and the countries have to negotiate that amongst themselves, but added that “given it a go, is not that I am guaranteeing that we will get it, but the spirit to go for it, gives you quite a bit of hope”.

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