US accuses India of secretly working for ‘Doha’s demise’ (Lead)

June 10th, 2008 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 10 (IANS) The United States has accused India of trying to wreck world trade liberalisation talks, asking it to take “responsible leadership” as a major economic power “rather than working behind the scenes for Doha’s demise”. India is proof of the remarkable effects that opening up an economy can have on a country’s citizens, US Under Secretary of Commerce Christopher Padilla said Monday.

“So it is disappointing that India has been a roadblock to success in the Doha negotiations,” he said at a panel discussion on US-India Synergy: Facing the Economic Challenges of the 21st Century at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

India continues to insist that it and other developing countries be protected from any real market opening in industrial goods or agriculture or services, while it asks developed countries to do ever more, he charged.

“The Doha Round negotiations are not a donor’s conference - they require major economic powers like India to step up and take responsible leadership, rather than working behind the scenes for Doha’s demise,” Padilla said.

The unusually blunt criticism of India came two days before the arrival of Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath in Washington for talks with US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez and Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer.

Kamal Nath has continually insisted that New Delhi will not sacrifice the interests of its millions of subsistence farmers to clinch a deal in the global trade talks.

Apart from asking India to stop being a “a roadblock” at Doha, Padilla also asked India to quickly move forward on their civil nuclear deal and shoulder its “international responsibilities” as an important global economic power.

In a litany of demands he asked India to make more progress in areas such as caps on foreign equity in retail, insurance and financial services, and provide more protection for intellectual property, particularly in the life sciences, where India seeks to attract more investment.

“Indeed, we hope India will propel the bilateral relationship forward by working with us on a high-standard bilateral investment treaty,” Padilla said.

In Doha talks, Padilla said the US is not asking that India and others open their markets to the same extent as developed countries. Yet so far India has resisted virtually all liberalising proposals in Doha, even those proffered by other developing countries, he alleged.

Dismissing the latest Indian proposal on formula cuts as a “complete non-starter”, Padilla said: “The time is fast approaching when India’s stance on Doha may result in the failure of the Doha Round.”

Describing India today as “one of the world’s most important global economic powers”, he said: “In these uncertain times, we must have concerted leadership by the world’s leading democracies to address the difficult challenges ahead.”

Referring to “the remarkable transformation occurring in India”, Padilla said: “But with rising economic power comes responsibility for playing a more central, constructive role in areas such as energy, food, and global trade.

“India is now a global player and the time has come for India to bear a greater share of responsibility in addressing global economic challenges,” the US official said. “From energy security, to food shortages, to climate change, to global trade talks, India should be a constructive and proactive partner.”

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