Last week, NAM President & CEO Jay Timmons was joined by several other trade association leaders in calling on President Obama to prioritize in his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the importance of India playing a positive role in the global economy, including by addressing concerns about India’s ongoing blockage of a global agreement on trade facilitation. The World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement, agreed to last year in Bali, would simplify customs procedures and facilitate the movement of goods across borders and is estimated to provide a more than $1 trillion stimulus to the world economy once implemented.
In the weeks leading up to a key July 31 deadline, India blocked implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. The agreement set a July 31 deadline for the WTO’s General Council to accept notifications of Category A commitments, adopt the Protocol of Amendment, and open the Protocol for acceptance. Hours before the final deadline, the WTO announced it had not been able to find a solution to the impasse.
In remarks yesterday to the Global Services Summit, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said the WTO “is facing a challenge the gravity of which is hard to overstate.” Azevedo said he remained hopeful that WTO members could resolve the differences blocking implementation of the TFA and move on to completing a work program to finish the long-running Doha Round of trade talks, which began in 2001. The umbrella Trade Negotiations Committee is scheduled to meet on October 6.
Earlier this week, The WTO’s Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation met to review 32 new notifications from developing countries received since the last meeting informing the WTO of their Category A commitments, demonstrating the strong interest globally in implementing this agreement. Category A commitments are those commitments countries promise to implement immediately when the TFA enters into force.
The NAM remains committed to the objectives outlined in the TFA, and NAM leaders have been vocal about manufacturers’ concerns over India’s recent actions. In a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed on August 11, Timmons wrote that India’s “high-stakes gamble risks hurting economic growth worldwide while calling into question India’s respect for its international commitments. In an Op-Ed for The Hill, NAM Vice President Linda Dempsey noted that India’s recent actions “create new skepticism about whether the Modi government is fully committed to the type of reforms that are critical for India’s own growth and its international competitiveness.”