New Delhi, Jan 30: India on Friday said it is keen that discussions related to e-commerce should take place at the World Trade Organization (WTO), but developing nations need time and policy space to define their own imperatives.

This was stated by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal at the virtual WTO ministerial meeting being organized by Switzerland.

With a fast-growing e-commerce sector both in India and globally, the rich nations want specific guidelines on this at WTO. “While we are very keen that e-commerce discussion should take place in multilateral dialogue, we strongly believe that developing nations need time as well as the policy space to define their own imperatives,” he said.

He also said that the special and differential treatment provisions should be more effective and practical to assist the developing countries in bridging the economic gaps.

Expressing “pain”, the minister said that every ministerial meet (top decision-making body of the WTO) ignores the issues of interest to the developing world that have been festering for years.

“No attempt is being made to address the asymmetries in the Uruguay Round, particularly in agriculture subsidies. The promise made about resolving the public stock holding for food security has not been met,” he added.

Goyal said India and South Africa have put forth a proposal for relaxing certain provisions in intellectual property (IP) agreement with a view to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and to help bring the entire world out of this crisis and to save precious lives.

“Leadership is about taking bold decisions and all of us, as members of the WTO, are on test today... We are grateful to those who have supported the proposal but regret the approach of some members, who are focused on protecting the gains of a few companies, as against looking at the wider benefit to the human kind,” he added. – PTI