Indonesia Highlights Importance of Agriculture Sector at WTO

Indonesia has reiterated the importance of the agricultural sector during a meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) held under India`s initiative.

The agricultural sector is one of the four areas that Indonesia had highlighted at the meeting held to informally discuss the continuation of the multilateral trading system under the WTO.

At the meeting, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita revealed that his side had delivered some important suggestions. The multilateral trading system, under the WTO, is the only reliable world trading system.

“If the system is deemed imperfect, then the WTO members are obligated to improve it and not abandon it,” Lukita noted in a written statement received in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The second point submitted by Indonesia was holding negotiations on the agriculture and fishery sectors, as they hold significance for all nations comprising developing and least developing ones as well as emerging economies and developed nations.

In this context, Lukita said Indonesia had emphasized the importance of the proposal of the agricultural group of developing countries to be completed soon.

The proposal is related to Public Stock Holding for Food Security Purposes and Special Safeguard Mechanism. Agreements on agricultural subsidies are equally important for developing countries.

It concerns efforts to remove subsidies related to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. It is also linked to efforts to reduce subsidies that lead to overfishing and excessive stockpiling of fish stocks.

Indonesia also emphasized that discussions on this issue should offer space for helping small-scale fishermen located in remote areas.

Thirdly, for new WTO initiatives — on issues concerning small and medium enterprises, facilitation of investment, e-commerce, and women`s empowerment, — the organization`s members should be open to discussing them in order to gain insights before proceeding to the negotiation level.

Finally, Indonesia shed light on several development issues. Indonesia understands the difficulties faced by several developed countries to offer special and differential treatment to numerous developing countries that have, in fact, been “upgraded” to emerging economies.

This should be discussed comprehensively and patiently and not being emotional and overlooking other issues to be discussed that lead to a deadlock in negotiations on all issues at the WTO.

Indonesia also expressed concern over one of the three pillars of the multilateral trading system under the WTO that faced substantial threats, as the process of selecting members of the Dispute Appeals Board was hampered by procedural issues.

To this end, Lukita stated that Indonesia joined a group of countries that had submitted proposals on the election procedure of members of the Appeals Board, so that the functions of WTO, as a mediator of trade disputes, could be immediately restored.

The trade minister reiterated the importance of demonstrating a strong political will to strengthen an open, rule-based, and multilateral trading system while continuing to reinforce a fair and effective WTO dispute resolution mechanism.



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