The head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Thursday welcomed an agreement between the United States and India over the way forward for implementing key elements of the Bali package reached last December at the WTO ministerial conference.
The core issues discussed were the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), an essential pact included in the Bali package to bring about global customs reform to improve the efficiency of cross-border trade, and as well as public stock-holding for food security purposes.
India's unwavering stance on the latter issue caused the failure of WTO members to get the TFA into the organization's rule book by the July 31 deadline, creating a stalemate that had a "paralysing effect" on the WTO, it said.
The good news on this front was that both the United States and India announced a breakthrough in the impasse, saying they reached a shared understanding on food security.
Both sides stressed their deal paved the way for the TFA to be fully implemented, the first-ever multilateral agreement in the WTO's nearly two-decade history, which was predicted to boost the world economy by the equivalent of one trillion U.S. dollars per year.
Roberto Azevedo, Director-General of the WTO, said in a statement that "this breakthrough represents a significant step in efforts to get the Bali package and the multilateral trading system back on track."
WTO said the India-U.S. agreement provided a basis for the Director-General to intensify his consultations with other WTO members on the best way to overcome the present stalemate and to promptly implement all Bali packages.
"The implementation of all aspects of the Bali package would be a major boost to the WTO, enhancing our ability to deliver beneficial outcomes to all our members," said Azevedo.