New Delhi meet ends Doha trade talks impasse

Nations resolve to draw up process of engagement before Sept 14 meeting


Significantly, the mini Ministerial meet convened by India to provide clear directions to negotiators to re-energize the multi-lateral process at the WTO—stalled since July 2008—unanimously affirmed on the need to conclude the Doha Round of trade negotiations by 2010.

“We have reached an agreement to intensify the Doha Round of trade negotiations. One may term this as a breakthrough as the impasse has been broken,” Commerce Minister Anand Sharma told reporters  while summarizing the outcome of the two-day informal meeting. Significantly while trade ministers noted there was a clear recognition that differences subsisted on (contentious) issues, intensifying negotiations was the first step towards bridging these gaps. “We (trade ministers) will ask our respective chief negotiators and senior officials to meet in Geneva beginning September 14 to draw up a process of engagement for the next 2-3 months and to work with the Chairs of the negotiating Groups to prepare an overall agenda of action,” Sharma said.

Issue-based work plans
The Delhi meet also agreed that chairs of negotiating groups on agriculture and NAMA would be asked to draw up issue-based work plans in consultation with chief negotiators and senior officials for intensifying engagement to complete negotiations.
It was also agreed that the draft modalities for Agriculture and NAMA as prepared by the WTO would provide the basis for re-starting the trade negotiations. While re-affirming “development remains at the heart of the Doha Round” the Delhi meet agreed that the multilateral process should continue to be main process of negotiations for the strength of its inclusiveness and transparency. “Other forms of engagements can work as an adjunct for developing a better understanding among members,” Sharma said.

Doha Round of trade negotiations got into a logjam in Geneva in July last year after several developing countries including India vociferously opposed massive agricultural subsidies offered by rich developed  nations to their farmers on the grounds that this distorts trade by making produce of developing countries costly.

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