A two-day World Trade Organization (WTO) informal ministerial meeting is being held in India. The objective of the ministerial meeting is to facilitate an informal and frank exchange of views on the agenda for negotiations at the WTO as well as institutional issues. Participants could also discuss any other theme of common interest to all members.
India seeks guidance on the future of the multilateral trading system amid attempts by the US to undermine WTO rules, raising fears of trade wars. The decision of the US to raise tariffs on steel and aluminium beyond its commitment under the WTO on the grounds of security is expected to dominate discussions at the meeting.
India has termed the move discriminatory and demanded an exclusion as granted to key allies of the US such as Canada and Mexico, while the European Union has threatened to retaliate by hiking tariffs on a set of goods it imports from the US. The US has started systematically undermining the WTO. The rules-based system that drives WTO through the dispute settlement mechanism is now being threatened by the US.
The US wants to go back to the pre-WTO system where abiding by a verdict of the dispute settlement mechanism was not binding and the winning country had to sit down and negotiate with the losing party, which could end up giving more powers to large developed countries to arm-twist their small economic partners.