WTO: India pushes for building broadband infra, digital skills in LDCs, developing countries; questions rich nations on e-commerce norms

In a special virtual meeting of the WTO's General Council on COVID-19 trade-related measures last week, India stated that there is a digital divide between developed and developing countries.

Press Trust of India May 19, 2020 20:22:08 IST
WTO: India pushes for building broadband infra, digital skills in LDCs, developing countries; questions rich nations on e-commerce norms

New Delhi: India has made a case for capacity building of developing and least-developed countries in areas like digital skills and broadband infrastructure, under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), rather than negotiating binding rules on e-commerce as coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift to a digital economy.

In a special virtual meeting of the WTO's General Council on COVID-19 trade-related measures last week, India stated that there is a digital divide between developed and developing countries.

Almost half of the world's population does not have access to high speed broadband and is deprived of the access to virtual platforms, tele-medicine, distance education and e-payments, it said.

WTO India pushes for building broadband infra digital skills in LDCs developing countries questions rich nations on ecommerce norms

Representational image.

"This emphasises the urgent need to build the capacity of developing countries and LDCs (least developed countries) in areas like digital skills and broadband infrastructure, rather than negotiating binding rules on e-commerce, which will freeze the non-level playing field against their interests," it added.

Rich nations want developing countries like India to negotiate binding commitments on e-commerce under the aegis of the WTO.

India has also said that the narrative-push by some WTO members to seek permanent tariff (or customs duties) liberalisation on a range of products in response to a temporary crisis, appears to be a "thinly-veiled bid" to use the current crisis as an opportunity to gain market access for their exporters.

It stated that members are free to reduce customs duties on imports of certain medical or agricultural products to zero, on a voluntary basis, if it serves their health and food security objectives.

"We have donated and exported critical medical supplies to more than 120 countries and have also dispatched teams of Indian doctors to many," it said.

It added that developing countries seeking to shore up manufacturing capacity in medical products will require tariff protection for their nascent domestic industry.

"Further, job losses in many service sectors have to be compensated elsewhere. Therefore, India, like many other developing countries cannot agree to permanent tariff concessions, and a dilution of the tariff bindings that we have paid for in the Uruguay Round," it said.

On ensuring food and livelihood security of the most vulnerable, it said the member countries should agree to eliminate the historic asymmetries in AMS (aggregate measures of support) entitlements in the Agreement on Agriculture and addressing growing hunger through effective food security programmes.

Along with the flow of vital goods, it said, the pandemic has also highlighted the need for ensuring easier cross-border movement of medical professionals and the need for multilateral initiatives in this respect.

This statement was delivered by India's Ambassador to the WTO JS Deepak on 15 May.

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

'Protection is must': Experts urge public to strictly follow COVID-19 guidelines as India reports over 5 lakh cases
India

'Protection is must': Experts urge public to strictly follow COVID-19 guidelines as India reports over 5 lakh cases

Medical experts told ANI that the rise in cases in India is still not high as compared to other countries but said that people should follow COVID-19 guidelines such as wearing face masks. Dr Suresh Kumar, Medical Director, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital said that urban mobility is a likely cause in the spike in cases.

As world waits for COVID-19 vaccine, India must use time to build robust immunisation plan, delivery system for last-mile reach
India

As world waits for COVID-19 vaccine, India must use time to build robust immunisation plan, delivery system for last-mile reach

Right from selecting the strategy for delivery of COVID-19 vaccine to recruiting a large volunteer staff, every tool must be analysed from the perspective of India’s unique public health system and its capabilities

India reports 14,821 new COVID-19 patients, 445 deaths in past 24 hours; total case count crosses 4.2 lakh with toll now at 13,699
India

India reports 14,821 new COVID-19 patients, 445 deaths in past 24 hours; total case count crosses 4.2 lakh with toll now at 13,699

India on Monday added 14,821 new COVID-19 cases pushing the infection tally to 4,25,282, while the death toll rose to 13,699 with 445 new fatalities, according to Union Health Ministry data.