Geneva: On the eve of important WTO Ministerial meeting here, India along with other BRICS members on Wednesday underscored the key role of the World Trade Organisation to keep protectionism at bay in the difficult economic environment.

The trade ministers of Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa came out with a common position stating that the WTO must maintain its central role in multi-lateral trade disciplines.

"We attach great importance to the role of the WTO in keeping protectionist forces at bay. Under the present global economic conditions, international trade plays an even more critical role in stimulating economic growth and development.

"We are in full agreement that all forms of protectionism must be resisted," the declaration at the end of the BRICS trade ministers said.

In his intervention, India's Commerce minister Anand Sharma said that BRICS would be both a rallying point and a bridge between developed and developing world.

The WTO Ministerial Conference, the highest policy making of the 154-member body, would deliberate during the next two days how to revive the stalled talks for achieving a global trade agreement under the 10-year old Doha Round.

Sharma exhorted the members of the BRICS countries to resist "moves to change the agenda and the discourse at the WTO".

With accession of Russia to WTO, the BRICS would play an important pressure group along with G20 to get a fair deal for the developing countries.

Sharma said the developmental issues of interest of the developing countries are not negotiable.

(Agencies)