Industry disappointed at WTO failure, but backs India’s stand

July 30th, 2008 - 10:28 pm ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) India Inc Wednesday expressed disappointment over the collapse of Doha Round negotiations on world trade in Geneva, but backed the government’s firm stand on trade issues. “India Inc had anticipated that the latest WTO negotiations would not reach a positive conclusion because the developed world was expecting too much from the developing nations,” Sajjan Jindal, president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), said in a statement issued here.

“It is disheartening to know that the talks collapsed over the issue of a reasonable trigger point needed to safeguard the livelihood concerns of millions of subsistence farmers in developing countries,” said R. Gopalakrishnan, chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The collapse of the talks is a setback for the multilateral trading system and its principle of promoting free and fair trade, Gopalakrishnan added.

“India has remained constructively engaged throughout (the talks), displayed necessary flexibility to take the negotiations forward, and what is most important, did not make any compromise on the legitimate concerns of developing countries,” Amit Mitra, secretary general of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), said.

He added that it would be impossible for India to move ahead with talks in the “absence of an effective safeguard mechanism to protect our farmers from any surge of artificially cheap and subsidised imports from developed countries”.

Another contentious issue that remained unresolved was the cotton subsidy. FICCI said the support extended by the developed countries to cotton must be steeply lowered and the entire issue has to be expeditiously addressed in the interests of major cotton-growing African countries, China and India among others.

G.K. Gupta, president of Federation Of Indian Export Organisations, said: “Real issue was difference in perception of developed and developing countries. The former was eager to promote ‘commercial prosperity’ against the question of subsistence of million of farmers in latter countries.”

The failure of talks has damaged the credibility of the multilateral system and will encourage greater reliance on regional trade deals, he added.

There will be no immediate impact on trade flows, given the long implementation periods for the measures under discussion - typically five years for developed countries and 10 years for developing countries. But this month’s failure could damage business sentiment.

The talks reflected the changing balance of economic power as emerging nations in Asia and Latin America grow in influence. India is set to assume the leadership of over 100 least developed countries and developing nations.

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