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General Studies 2 >> International Relations

WTO

WTO to resolve the challenges for Indian food exports

 

Context

 
WTO is looking into resolving WTO rules that are making it difficult for India to export food grains to meet shortages in other countries, caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.

 

Key points 

 
  • Russia- Ukraine war poses risk to global food security.
  • The Russian Federation and Ukraine play an important role in the global food supply including food and agricultural products.
  • According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the prices increase by 8 to 22 per cent which is the highest since 1961.
  • Together, both countries account for 30 per cent of global wheat, 70 per cent of sunflower oil and 18 per cent of corn exports.
  • Ukraine banned exports of wheat, millets, meat, live cattle and other products to ensure domestic supplies.
  • Nearly 50 countries depend on the Russian Federation and Ukraine for 30 per cent of their wheat import needs.
  • A high rise in prices creates widespread scarcity in West Asia and North Africa.
  • The implication of fertilizer in today’s market disruptions limits options for responses by wealthy countries as well as low- and middle-income countries.
  • In March, the global price of sunflower oil reached a record high, as did global prices of rapeseed ( canola) oil, soybean oil and palm oil.
  • Prices for ammonia, nitrogen, nitrates, phosphates, potash and sulphates, which constitute the global fertilizer market are up to 30 per cent since January.
  • According to the FAO, 26 countries rely on Ukraine and Russia for at least 50 per cent of their wheat imports.
  • These include countries in Africa's Sahel region, where 6 million children are malnourished and 16 million people are at risk of food insecurity.
  • UN World Food Program (WFP) also recently noted the vulnerability of countries in East Africa experiencing the effects of conflict and severe drought.
  • UNICEF emphasizes the vulnerability majority of children do not have access to adequate nutrition
  • In the Middle East and North Africa where countries depend on Ukraine and Russia.
  • High food and fuel prices are a crisis in the presidential election in France, Germany, Italy and Spain have offered energy allowances, prices and tax cuts to curb the impact of high energy prices.
 
 

WTO

 
  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations.
  • It has 164 members and 23 observer governments.
  • GATT ( General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) provided the rules for world trade from 1948- to 1994. it was a provisional agreement and organization dealing with trade in goods.
  • The WTO created in 1995 marked the biggest reform of international trade since the end of the Second World War. It agreements also cover trade in services and intellectual property.
  • The birth of the WTO also created new procedures for the settlement of disputes.
 

Functions 

  • Administering WTO trade agreements
  • Conducting forum for trade negotiations
  • Handling trade disputes
  • Monitoring national trade policies
  • Providing technical assistance and training for developing countries
  • Cooperation with other international organizations.

Objectives

The WTO has six main objectives:

  1. to establish and enforce international trade rules,
  2. to provide a forum for negotiating and monitoring further trade liberalization,
  3. to resolve trade disputes,
  4. to improve decision-making transparency,
  5. to collaborate with other major international economic institutions involved in global economic management, and
  6. to assist developing countries in fully benefiting from the global trading system.

Structure

  • The Ministerial Conference, which must meet at least every two years, is the WTO's highest authority.
  • The daily work is handled between Ministerial Conferences by three bodies whose membership is the same; the only difference is the terms of reference under which each body is created.
    • The General Council
    • The Dispute Settlement Body
    • The Trade Policy Review Body
  • The General Council is the highest governing body of the United Nations.
 
 

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