Udayavni Special

Staff representation of India in WTO secretariat stagnant in past 25 yrs


PTI, Oct 25, 2020, 4:43 PM IST

New Delhi: India has pitched for taking measures to increase the number of staff strength from the country at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) secretariat as its staff representation has remained stagnant in the past 25 years.

India has stated that smaller countries, with less population, have more staff in the secretariat than India, which is the world’s second-most populous country, and its professionals have made a mark across the world with their skills and talent.

“The staff representation of many members, including India has remained stagnant in the past 25 years. For instance, India’s share in the total WTO staff in 1995 was 2.2 per cent and now it is 2.1 per cent. Almost no change! In the professional staff category, it has in fact gone down from 4.1 per cent in 1995 to 3.5 per cent in 2019,” according to a statement made by India in the WTO’s CBFA (Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration) meeting on October 22.

The CBFA reviews the WTO budget and the financial statement presented by the Director-General. It also discusses financial and administrative matters which are referred to it by the General Council or the Director-General. The CBFA is open to all WTO members. It meets between seven and ten times per year.

India has also stated that the staffing pattern still remains skewed in favour of a handful of members.

“It is not that there is not enough interest among Indians or other developing country candidates to work at the secretariat. In fact, in 2019, the highest number of applicants, across staff categories, were from India,” it said.

Just five countries – constituting only 3 per cent of the membership – account for nearly 50 per cent of the total staff strength, it said adding “not surprisingly,” these are all developed country members.

“Therefore, we call upon more measures and active efforts to increase the diversity of the secretariat. We will work with the secretariat to achieve the diversity that the WTO truly deserves,” it added.

Further developing countries and LDCs (least developed countries) that account for more than 3/4th of the WTO membership account for only 30 per cent of the staff.

On the other hand, the developed countries, constituting less than 1/4th of the membership account for 70 per cent of the staff.

“It is clearly evident that select developed countries continue to enjoy some kind of special and differential treatment (S&DT) in recruitment at the WTO, but often the narrative is to accuse and defame the developing countries for their legitimate S&DT entitlements in WTO agreements,” the statement said.

Geneva-based WTO is a multi-lateral body having 164 members. It deals with global imports and exports. India is a member since 1995.

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