WTO ministerial meeting begins Monday

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Trade environment globally is very risky at this point of time.

Ministers and delegates from around 50 countries gathered here on Monday for the "mini ministerial" meeting India is hosting to "revitalise" the World Trade Organisation and discuss other related issues.

The United States has expressed great concerns about the functioning of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and has asked for reforms.

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Expressing concerns over rising protectionism in developed countries, especially in the United States which has imposed high import duties on steel and aluminium, WTO (World Trade Organization) Director General Roberto Azevedo on Monday called upon the member nations to come together and resolve the issues related to global trade.

Mr. Azevedo is in India for a two-day informal ministerial meeting of WTO members over Monday and Tuesday.

Last week Washington took one of the biggest trade steps against India by dragging New Delhi before the WTO over export incentive programs. "This is a moment we are facing many challenges inside and outside WTO", Azevedo said. This is the second WTO mini-ministerial meeting being hosted by India, after the first in 2009.

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Indian trade minister Suresh Prabhu has said he hopes the meeting, which is also attended by deputy USA trade representative Dennis Shea, could push the multilateral process forward after talks in Buenos Aires last December failed amid fears of a trade war.

The director general said the outcome of the meeting, which does not have a fixed agenda, here will be "useful to the conversations that we will be having in Geneva to try and move forward on all the items". He also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We have very significant challenges before us.

New Delhi is anxious that a direct confrontation with the Trump administration could impact the interest of software exports to the United States, estimated at almost 60 percent of India's $110 billion annual software exports. The US has demanded reform in the functioning of the WTO to meet the changed circumstances.

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The US has been blocking the appointment of members of the WTO's appellate body, which experts say could render it incapable of resolving disputes arising out of Washington's decision to raise tariffs and impose other protectionist measures.

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