WTO reform process should not undermine its basic principles: Minister

India said that WTO's reform process should not dilute the basic principles of providing special and differential treatment to developing countries as well as consensus-based decision making.

Speaking at a meeting of G20 trade ministers in Japan, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said in the reform process of the World Trade Organization (WTO), concerns of all member countries must be accommodated.

"India believes that the reform process should not undermine the WTO's fundamental principles, namely, 'Special and Differential Treatment' (S&DT), consensus based decision making and objective of development," he said.

Goyal said the reform process should begin with reviving the dispute settlement mechanism of the Geneva-based body, which frames rules for global trade, by allowing re-nomination of appellate body members at the earliest.

The statement assumes significance as the U.S has called for reforming WTO.

The U.S wants formulation of some guidelines that countries with high economic growth are prevented from taking benefits of S&DT, which is meant for developing nations.

It has submitted its suggestions that self-declaration of member countries as developing economies to avail S&DT benefits puts the 164-member multilateral body on a path to failed negotiations and it is also a path to institutional irrelevance.

The S&DT allows developing countries to enjoy certain benefits, including taking longer time periods for implementing agreements and binding commitments, and measures to increase trading opportunities.

Further, the U.S has also put roadblocks in appointment of new members in the appellate body of WTO's dispute settlement system.

The minimum quorum (3) for functioning of this body will end on December 10, after which it will become dysfunctional.

"The dispute settlement mechanism, which is the mainstay of the WTO, underscores the principle of sovereign equality of all nations, which we are all committed to uphold," Goyal said.

He said that the current proposals on WTO reform do not take into consideration the challenges and aspirations of developing countries.

"Therefore, we need to build confidence among member countries and develop an agenda which encompasses all such concerns," he said.

(with news agency inputs)