A group of World Trade Organization (WTO) members has informally discussed adopting a global overhaul of customs rules without India if New Delhi goes ahead with threats to block the deal, sources familiar with the talks said on Thursday.
India has demanded the deal, which must be approved on Thursday, be accompanied by a parallel agreement giving it more freedom to subsidise and stockpile food grains than currently allowed under WTO rules.
The ultimatum revived doubts about the future of the WTO as a negotiating body and many diplomats said New Delhi's stance could derail the whole process of world trade liberalisation, leading to some nations discussing the last-resort idea of excluding India from the deal.
"If India does end up blocking (on Thursday) there is already a group of members who are interested in pursuing that path," a source involved in the discussions said.
"A dozen or so" of the WTO's 160 members had informally discussed pushing ahead with the trade facilitation agreement on a plurilateral basis, or with less than 100 percent participation, the source said. The WTO says a successful deal could add $1 trillion to the global economy and create 21 million jobs.