G20 trade ministerial: WTO reforms, supply chains may dominate agenda

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal is set to attend the three-day Group of 20 (G20) nations’ trade, investment, and industry ministerial, which begins on Wednesday in Bali, Indonesia. Member nations are expected to thrash out key trade issues related to market access, building sustainable supply chains, reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO), among others.

There could also be discussions on industry’s responses to pandemics, digital trade, and sustainable investment for global economic recovery.

The meeting takes place at a time when the world is yet to fully recover from the Covid-19 pandemic’s shock and is staring at recession, thanks in part to the geopolitical tensions triggered after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On the sidelines of the ministerial, India will try to woo its trading partners to negotiate free trade agreements (FTAs) fast, people aware of the matter said.

“One of the points that India may highlight is that by 2047 the Indian economy will grow tenfold. This should be kept in mind while signing FTAs are these pacts are typically long term. On the other hand, India’s competitors may not grow at a similar pace, including the developed nations with whom India is signing FTAs.

This must be kept in mind during negotiations,” one of the officials said.

Goyal is expected to hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Indonesia, Canada, United States, and South Korea, the official told Business Standard.

India has already signed two trade agreements earlier this year with the UAE and Australia, though the latter is yet to be ratified by the Australian Parliament. India is currently negotiating FTAs with the UK, Canada, and the EU. Discussions for a trade deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Israel are also on.

According to a media report, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai has convened a meeting of G20 trade ministers to discuss issues related to the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism. The outcome document of the WTO ministerial has promised to revive the dispute settlement body in next two years.

The G20 is a strategic multilateral platform connecting the world’s major developed and emerging economies. G20 member nations represent more than 80 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), 75 per cent of international trade, and 60 per cent of the world’s population.

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