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What are the key areas of reform if the WTO has to survive in the present context of ‘Trade War’, especially keeping in mind the interest of India? (250 words)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is facing significant challenges in the present context of ‘trade war’ and protectionist measures adopted by several countries. To survive in this context, the WTO needs to undertake several reforms.

Key areas of reform:

• Strengthening the dispute settlement mechanism: The WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism is one of its key strengths. However, the mechanism is currently facing significant challenges, with the United States blocking appointments to the Appellate Body. Strengthening the dispute settlement mechanism is critical for the WTO’s survival.

• Rebalancing of rights and obligations: There is a need to rebalance the rights and obligations of developed and developing countries to ensure that the interests of developing countries, such as India, are protected.

• Addressing non-tariff barriers: Non-tariff barriers, such as technical regulations, standards, and procedures, are increasingly being used as a means of protectionism. The WTO needs to address these barriers to ensure free and fair trade.

• Promoting digital trade: The growth of digital trade presents new challenges for the WTO. The organization needs to develop new rules and regulations to govern digital trade and ensure that it benefits all countries.

• Addressing labor and environmental standards: There is a need to incorporate labor and environmental standards into the WTO’s rules and regulations to ensure that trade is sustainable and benefits all stakeholders.

• Strengthening the development agenda: The WTO needs to strengthen its development agenda and ensure that the interests of developing countries are adequately represented in the organization’s decision-making processes.

• Ensuring transparency: The WTO needs to ensure transparency in its decision-making processes and in the implementation of its rules and regulations.

In conclusion, the WTO needs to undertake several reforms to survive in the present context of ‘trade war’ and protectionist measures. By addressing key areas such as strengthening the dispute settlement mechanism, rebalancing of rights and obligations, addressing non-tariff barriers, promoting digital trade, addressing labor and environmental standards, strengthening the development agenda, and ensuring transparency, the WTO can ensure that it remains relevant and effective in promoting free and fair trade, especially keeping in mind the interests of developing countries like India.

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