India hopeful of taking trade talks forward

June 19th, 2009 - 1:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 19 (IANS) Asserting that New Delhi had never wanted the Doha Round of World Trade talks to collapse, India has expressed the hope 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, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told a press conference here Thursday.

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.

The minister said 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.

“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.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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