India could lose trade ally as Brown dashes Mandelson’s hopes

March 14th, 2008 - 8:17 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown
By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, March 14 (IANS) India could lose a powerful partner in the arena of international trade after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown dashed Peter Mandelson’s hopes of a second term as European Union (EU) trade commissioner. “Peter Mandelson has said he doesn’t want to become the next commissioner, (and) that he wants to do only one term,” Brown said in an interview Thursday night after a meeting between the two.

“He is leading the European negotiations to get a trade agreement and I will be talking to him very soon about how we can move that forward. I think it’s important to say that Peter Mandelson has done a great job as commissioner and, of course, it’s his wish to do something else.”

However, a spokesman for Mandelson said: “Peter’s view is that this is something that doesn’t have to be discussed now. We can come back to this in a year’s time. Obviously it’s up to the prime minister to decide but Peter hasn’t made up his mind.”

Mandelson’s term as EU trade commissioner expires in October and Britain has to nominate his replacement. But there is no guarantee that Britain will be awarded the trade job again next year.

Mandelson, a former cabinet minister and mastermind of the 1997 Labour election victory, supported Tony Blair’s bid for premiership over that of Brown’s, sparking a long-running feud.

The grandson of a former foreign secretary, Mandelson has built up strong ties with India, and has been a behind-the-scenes supporter of many of India’s positions on world trade.

In spite of occasional good-humoured jousting in public, he is thought to be close to Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, who leads India at World Trade Organization negotiations.

Mandelson has supported calls for the developed world - led by the US and EU - to slash government subsidies to their agricultural sectors but pleaded helplessness in the face of opposition from the US and some European countries such as France.

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