India did not want trade talks to collapse: Anand Sharma (Lead)

June 19th, 2009 - 2:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 19 (IANS) India will look to find a middle ground in the global trade talks in the quest for a “fair solution acceptable to all parties”, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said here, insisting that New Delhi never wanted the talks to collapse.

Asserting that India had never wanted the Doha Round of World Trade talks to collapse, New Delhi hopes that a common meeting ground would be found to provide a level playing field to the developing countries. The Doha round had a hit a logjam because of non-convergence on many issues, but now there is recognition of the sensitivities of the developing countries, Sharma told a press conference Thursday before leaving for New Delhi after his three-day visit.

Putting the issue in historical perspective, Sharma said the Doha round of trade talks were started to accept and correct distortions in global trade, which denied access and a level playing field to the developing countries.

As the talks progressed it was recognised that about two-thirds of the population in the least developed and developing countries was dependent on subsistence agriculture and not commercial agriculture, he said.

“So that’s where we stand. And I am sure those sensitivities have been taken on board by everyone,” Sharma said when asked about a “more flexible stand” taken by India after the elections and as reflected in a statement he made after meeting US officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“If those sensitivities had not registered, we would not have moved forward and reached the stage where we did.”

Sharma told Clinton that “while a perfect solution may be elusive, it should be possible to find a fair solution acceptable to all parties, while keeping in mind that development was central to the Doha Round”.

A nation’s policies are not determined by individuals, but by the leaderships of country, Sharma said. “In Prime Minister Manmohan Singh we have a leader who has the vision, comprehension, understanding of what the global situation is and what India’s own priorities are.”

Maintaining that “India had never said it (trade talks) should collapse”, he said: “Yes, it had logjammed, but that’s part of history.”

Sharma said it was time to pick up from where negotiator had left off. “A practical approach is not to let go waste what the world has invested over the years, but to accept the progress, which is substantial and significant.”

This, the minister contended, could only be done by give and take to try to find the middle ground. “And that’s what we intend to do.”

Sharma also warned against protectionist measures in the wake of the global economic crisis and said such a move would not only be counterproductive but also deepen the recession and delay recovery.

“Any kind of protectionism will not only be counterproductive, but deepen the recession and delay the recovery,” Sharma told reporters.

In the US, there was a lack of comprehension and information, particularly about the services sector which forms a major component of Indian exports, he said. “What is perhaps not fully appreciated is that the outflow of services is evenly matched by the inflow of services.”

Noting that of the Fortune 500 companies, 100 have their research and development hubs in India and another 220 are sourcing their software from it, Sharma said: “Do not forget, if India is such a huge IT industry, where does the hardware come from. That is why any protectionist barrier is dangerous.”

Referring to a report he released Wednesday, Sharma said the Indian industry brought in over $106 billion in economic activity to the US last year and created 300,000 jobs. Indian IT industry alone has created 250,000 jobs in America.

“It is reciprocity, which has to be acknowledged and appreciated,” he said.

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