Our markets are open to smaller nations: WTO

pledge to provide package of deliverables

Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma shakes hands with Pascal Lamy, Director General WTO in Paris on Wednesday. PTI Photo

Trade Ministers from India, European members, the US, Australia and China met informally at the sidelines of OECD meeting here yesterday.

"The meeting saw a unanimous resolve that a package of deliverables (for) the interests of least developed countries be accorded priority and efforts be made to fast track negotiations in those areas for conclusion by end December," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said after the meeting.

Australia's trade minister Craig Emerson concurred with Sharma's assessment, suggesting that there was a "high level of agreement to work on the developmental issues concerning the LDCs".

WTO Director General Pascal Lamy made a plea to the member countries to agree on a step-by-step deal if the full scale agreement under the Doha Round is not achievable.

"If not the full Round, at least an early harvest of it as a credible signal of the rest to come at a later stage, when the politics of the Round would have aligned," Lamy said.

He said the Doha Round negotiations remain stuck because of "an unbridgeable gap in the level of ambition in industrial tariff cuts between major economies, which prevents progress," claiming that the differences are "political" and not technical.

Lamy pleaded with the ministers to explore options that would deliver results before the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva in December.

The Doha Round of talks, which began in 2001, have missed several deadlines due to differences on the demand by the developed countries on the level of market opening in the developing nations. There are also discords on protection for farmers in the rich world.

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