<b>XIII LOK SABHA DEBATES, <i> Session II (Winter Session) </i> </b>
XIII LOK SABHA DEBATES, Session II (Winter Session) Wednesday, December 8, 1999/Agrahayana 17, 1921 (Saka )

Title: Regarding the third Ministerial Conference of World Trade Organisation (WTO) at Seattle.

12.03 hours

MR. SPEAKER: Now, the statement to be made by Shri Murasoli Maran.

THE MINISTER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY (SHRI MURASOLI MARAN): Hon. Speaker, Sir, as the hon. Members are aware, the Third Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation was held at Seattle from 30th November to 3rd December, 1999. This Conference assumed importance and attracted wide publicity and attention because of the efforts by a significant number of Member countries to seek an endorsement from this Conference for the proposal to launch a comprehensive round of negotiations covering a wide range of subjects including proposal to link trade with labour issues through this Conference.

The Indian Delegation was led by me. I had the privilege of having hon. Members of Parliament, Thiru Biplab Dasgupta, Thiru Kamal Nath and Thiru Yerrannaidu in the Delegation. There were many demonstrations before and during the period of Conference by several interest groups. In fact, the inaugural function scheduled for the forenoon of 30th November, 1999 had to be abandoned. However, under police protection, the Plenary Session began in the afternoon of 30th November, 1999, and I made our country statement in the Plenary Session on the evening of 30th November, 1999.

As part of the consultation process, meetings of SAARC at the official level and G-15 members at the Ministerial level were held. On the margins of the Ministerial Conference, I held a number of bilateral meetings with the leaders of many delegations, including those of European Commission, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Sweden, Colombia, South Africa, Japan, China, Nepal and Bhutan.

As part of the Conference process, working groups were formed to discuss in depth the various subjects including agriculture, market access, implementation and other issues and arrive at consensus-based recommendations relating to negotiating mandate or decisions as the case may be. We participated effectively in the deliberations of all the groups and articulated our position on various issues. We effectively opposed the inclusion of non-trade issues like labour standards in the agenda of WTO. This was fully in line with the Prime Minister's statement made in the Lok Sabha on 1.12.1999.

As no consensus-based conclusion could be reached on most of the issues before the Ministerial Conference, no declaration was finalised and issued. In the light of this, the work of the Ministerial Conference has been suspended. The Chairperson in her statement in the closing Plenary Session indicated that the Director General, WTO, will hold consultation with Member countries and make a proposal for resuming the work of the Ministerial Conference. The Chairperson also stated:

"During this time, the Director General can consult with delegations and discuss creative ways in which we might bridge the remaining areas in which consensus does not yet exist, develop and improved process which is both efficient and fully inclusive, and prepare the way for successful conclusion. The Ministerial will then resume its work."

It is, however, expected that the mandated negotiations under the provisions of the Agreement on Agriculture and the General Agreement on Trade in Services, will take place as scheduled with effect from 1.1.2000. The mandated reviews under the various WTO Agreements are also expected to be undertaken as per the time schedule provided under the respective WTO agreements.

MR. SPEAKER: The House will now take up the `Zero Hour'.

SHRI MADHAVRAO SCINDIA (GUNA): Sir, I would like to make a very important point. ... (Interruptions)

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