India must take lead to conclude global trade talks, says Lamy

WTO members have agreed on almost 90 per cent of the issues

“If the Doha round fails, it will, of course, weaken the 153-member World Trade Organisation in medium to long-run. India has been playing an important role in the negotiations and must take it to the logical conclusion,” Lamy, who was here to push the talks, told IANS in an interview.

He said even though the mandate of the World Trade Organisation was much broader today, not just to oversee the Doha round, the failure of talks would mean that the organisation is not able to make global trade freer and fairer.

“It’s true World Trade Organisation is not all about Doha round. But its failure would mean that we are not able to achieve the major objective,” he said. “Members have agreed on almost 90 per cent of the issues. Only a few issues are holding the things back.”

To boost global trade
The Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations, launched in the Qatari capital in November 2001, has been deadlocked since 2008 and the  World Trade Organisation chief hoped it would reach a successful conclusion sooner than later.

The round - with an emphasis on development - seeks to boost global trade by correcting the structural flaws and distortions in the multilateral trading system. It seeks to especially help poor countries build capacity and prosper through trade.

Lamy said the global economy has undergone a lot of changes in the last decade and the economic balance was shifting towards developing countries like India, China and Brazil from the US, Europe and Japan.

Market access
“Now developed countries like the US and European countries expect the developing economies like India and China to compete on a level-playing field,” he said alluding to the demands for market access for industrial goods.

Yet, lauding India's role in the negotiations, Lamy said New Delhi has been playing a very constructive role and has emerged as a leader among developing countries.  India was instrumental in bringing together all the developing countries under one platform, loosely referred to as World Trade Organisation’s G20, which has emerged as a formidable grouping in the trade negotiations.

Since the informal mini-ministerial meeting hosted here by India in September 2009 to re-energise the stalled negotiations, little progress has been made and the Doha round still remains deadlocked. Lamy expressed the hope that the members would be able to make some progress in breaking the deadlock during the upcoming ministerial meeting in December.

The World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting, the highest policy- making body of the organisation, generally takes place once in two-three years. The 8th round of ministerial meeting is scheduled to take place in Geneva Dec 15-17, 2011.

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