India thrust to Doha talks

Commerce Minister will hold series of meetings with WTO officials
Last Updated 18 October 2010, 15:26 IST

Commerce & Industry Minister Anand Sharma is leaving for Geneva and will hold a series of meetings with WTO officials including Director General Pascal Lamy, an official said.
“The minister will meet not only Lamy but also heads of different negotiating groups,” he said.

Though no breakthrough is expected during Sharma’s visit to the headquarters of the World Trade Organisation, “some movement is taking place”, in the backdrop of slight improvement in the attitude of the US, which had so far shunned the WTO talks in the Obama administration.

Locked horns

Senior US trade officials, including chief negotiator for agriculture, Isi Siddiqui, had recently visited India and met Commerce Ministry officials as well as industry representatives. Developed and developing economies have locked horns on the level of opening and protecting markets through tariff cuts and subsidies, mainly in agriculture.
The issue of protection to poor farmers in developing countries in the event of open trade has remained a priority for India.

However, the rich nations, particularly the US have been insisting that emerging economies like India, China and Brazil should open their markets. Siddiqui had indicated the Doha negotiations, which are running into the tenth year, may stretch into 2012.
India had made efforts in September 2009 to re-energise the Doha talks by convening a ministerial meeting in New Delhi. Besides, the country has also been raising the issue in the G-20 summits. The issue would come up again in the next summit in Seoul in November.

Sharma said leaders of the Group of 20, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, are likely to raise concerns over long delay in opening the world trade through a Doha deal. Different studies have said that fragile global economic recovery would get a boost if the world trade was liberalised.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the world economy may increase by 4.8 per cent this year, led by the emerging economies. However, economic expansion in developed nations remain uncertain, analysts felt.

“We will wait for the next G-20 summit. India has a commitment to take the present WTO round to a successful conclusion, which will be in the interest of the global economy,” Sharma had recently said.

(Published 18 October 2010, 15:25 IST)

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