WTO chief rues collapse of talks, says it needs compromises

SansadTV Bureau
India's commerce minister Suresh Prabhu with Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General, World Trade Organization.

India’s commerce minister Suresh Prabhu with Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General, World Trade Organization.

Disappointed over collapse of global trade talks, WTO chief Roberto Azevedo has said results cannot be delivered at every ministerial meeting as he rued the failure to meet the deadline on the crucial issue of public stockholding.

The 11th WTO meet ended without any ministerial declaration or any substantive outcome with the US going back on its commitment to find a permanent solution to the public food stockholding issue, leaving India and other developing disappointed.

Acknowledging that “we can’t deliver at every ministerial”, the WTO Director General said that however such a proposition does not diminish the disappointment being felt.

“Despite our best efforts we could not meet the deadline on public stockholding. It’s not the first deadline we miss but it is still disappointing,” he said.

Even though the WTO worked hard, Azevedo said that members could not even agree on more detailed programmes in many areas.

“It’s not compatible to expect multilateralism to work and at the same time to expect to walk out with everything you wanted. This is a recipe for failure.

“If we prize the system, we have to come knowing that we will need to make compromises. Sometimes painful compromises,” Azevedo said as he sought to send out a strong message.

As the US refused to engage, the 164-member World Trade Organisation (WTO) failed to reach a common ground for resolving the food security issue, a demand raised prominently by India.

Even after hectic parleys, intense lobbying and prolonged posturing, the member nations failed to break an impasse over public food stockholding, disappointing a number of member states, especially the developing ones.

Following the breakdown of talks, there was no ministerial declaration, though conference chair and Argentinean Minister Susana Malcorra made a statement highlighting the developments.

For India, failure to successfully push the food security issue was a disappointment, but the officials took comfort from the fact that the country did not yield any ground on other issues and kept its defensive interests in various fields intact.