Reforms of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have to take into account the interests of all the member countries and it has to come out with a forward-looking agenda in an inclusive manner, former Union minister Suresh Prabhu said on Monday. He said a new world is going to unfold, and multilateralism is under a serious threat.
"The question is how to deal with this threat when it is needed most. The WTO is on a ventilator and it has to come out of it. We have to find a solution. It can't be one way or another. WTO's reforms have to take into account the interests of all members. It has to come out with a forward-looking agenda in an inclusive manner," he said.
Prabhu said this while participating in a webinar on 'COVID-19 and the Imperative of Resurrecting the Multilateral Trading System', organised by CUTS International.
Participating in the programme, former director general of WTO Pascal Lamy said that a multilateral, rules-based and open trading system will be even more challenged in a post-coronavirus world.
"There has to be a balance between market access needs and regulations related to ensure safety and security for the consumers...Also, it is expected that there will be a steep increase in precautionary measures, which will further harm cross-border trade. In sum, we will see a more fragmented trading system," he said.
CUTS International Secretary General Pradeep Mehta said it is the responsibility of the middle powers, including India, to collectively provide a strong leadership for the resurrection of the multilateral trading system.
WTO is 164-member multilateral body, which frames rules for global trade. India is one of its members since 1995.