WTO draft texts form basis for talks: India

February 16th, 2008 - 5:59 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) The new draft texts on agriculture and industrial goods form the basis to push forward the stalled global trade talks, India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said Saturday. “Both new texts produced by the chairmen of the committees of agriculture and industrial goods form the basis of some negotiations,” Kamal Nath said while addressing the 80th annual general meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here.

The global trade talks, started under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), are on hold since July 2006 largely over issues concerning agricultural subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods.

“India needs to occupy the space in the new architectural set-up. Otherwise, we will never have the space for ourselves. So, we need to see that global rules for trade are fair,” Kamal Nath said.

“In WTO, we need to look at agriculture. Subsidies distort prices; we will have to fight subsidies. Our interest is only free and fair trade,” he added.

The draft texts were circulated last week so as to nudge forward the round, which was stalled in the Qatari capital Doha.

Welcoming the texts early this week, the minister had said: “Significant and effective reduction of trade distorting subsidies of the developed countries is an issue on which there can be no compromise because they impact adversely upon the livelihood of millions of our poor farmers.

“Indian agriculture cannot be expected to carry the burden and most definitely not in a development round.”

However, he did raise a note of caution and said that a lot of work needs to be done and greater flexibility needs to shown by the developed countries.

India and developing countries are asking the rich nations such as the US and EU to reduce their farm subsidies and throw open their agricultural markets by significantly cutting tariffs.

On the other hand, these developed countries want the developing countries to drastically reduce tariffs on their industrial produce and service liberalisation.

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