India all set to host WTO meet

Hopes to re-energise and revive Doha negotiations

Senior officials from the participating countries on Tuesday — prior to the formal opening of the Delhi meet — held a closed door meeting to set the tone for the negotiations.
The meeting to be hosted by India on Thursday, is being attended by high level delegations headed by respective trade ministers from nearly 33 countries representing practically all shades of opinion and interests in the multilateral trade negotiations being conducted under the aegis of the WTO.

“The Delhi ministerial meeting is intended to use the expression of broad-based international political support to facilitate multilateral discussions and to provide clear directions to negotiators” the Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said. The meeting would be the first occasion since the impasse in the talks at the mini-ministerial meeting of the WTO in July last year. “One should not expect that the Delhi meet would evolve consensus on the contentious subjects like agricultural issues and market access over which there have been sharp differences,” he said.
This meeting is an informal Ministerial meeting convened by India and different meetings convened by the WTO.

However, trade analysts say even to make the WTO member countries to come to negotiating table continues to be a difficult proposition.
The approach followed, so far, in the negotiations has been to get member-countries to agree on modalities for cutting tariffs on agricultural and industrial goods, gradually eliminating export subsidies and reducing agricultural subsidies.
However, recently there has been a demand for a new approach to the negotiations, of directly notifying individual commitments, skipping the modalities stage.
India is likely to insist in the Delhi meet that the already prepared draft texts on Agricultural and Non Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) should be the basis on which further negotiations are held in light of the 2010 timeline, sources said.
Among others the Delhi meet is being attended by the WTO Director General Pascal Lamy and U S Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

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