India asks US to be flexible, warns against trade barriers

India asks US to be flexible, warns against trade barriers

India has asked the US and other countries to show flexibility in reopening the stalled Doha round of talks so that an early and fair world trade accord can be reached.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma warned against protectionist measures resorted to by developed countries saying those measures would further deepen recession and delay a recovery in the world economy.

The Doha Round of talks were stalled in July 2008 amid differences between the US and India, representing the developing world. India wants special safeguards for developing countries to protect their agricultural sectors.

Sharma said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wanted the current round of talks to conclude successfully.

"That is the mandate I have from the Prime Minister, who feels that the present economic crisis - which the world is facing - should be a positive message for global trade barriers to be broken down further and global trade to move, which will help economies across the globe," he said, addressing a news conference here yesterday.

Observing that the present global economic scenario is both a challenge and an opportunity, Sharma said the countries who could play a role, who could define the road- map, must work with sincerity and openness. "we will allow free movement of people and free movement of trade and service".

Sharma, who earlier held talks with officials of the Obama administration, hoped WTO countries would find a common ground on issues of divergence. "We must try and harmonise the respective positions, which are important." And "that could only be done by give and take to find the middle route".

"I am sure that (US) President (Barack) Obama wishes the same, and that's the feeling I got from (US Trade Representative) Ron Kirk.

When political leaders discuss issues, they paint the larger canvass and not be bogged down by smaller details. If you have the larger picture in mind and you are committed to take it forward the details can always be filled," Sharma said.

The US wants advanced developing countries such as India to provide more market access for the trade talks to proceed.

Sharma, the first cabinet minister to visit the US after general elections in India, also said India was less affected by the current global economic crisis because of its strong fundamentals.

"The current economic crisis has affected countries across continents –- some more adversely, some less adversely. Without quantifying details India may be one of the countries less adversely affected because of the sound fundamentals of its economy," Sharma.

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