US, Australia want India to tango on Doha

March 29th, 2008 - 10:38 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 29 (IANS) The US and Australia have said they would work together to try to bring the Doha round to a successful close, but it would take many others countries, including India, doing their part. “Takes more than two to tango,” Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said at a news conference with President George W. Bush here Friday. The Doha round of world trade talks, now in its seventh year, was a major topic of their conversation.

“Takes a lot of people to tango when it comes to the Doha Round - combination of ourselves and the Cairns Group (of agricultural exporters led by Australia), the United States, the Europeans, Brazil, India, others,” he said.

The US and the European Union both face demands to make deep cuts in their agricultural subsidies and tariffs, but want major developing countries such as India and Brazil to open their markets in exchange.

Negotiators have been working in Geneva toward a possible ministerial-level meeting in April or May, where it is hoped a long-awaited breakthrough would occur.

“My own view is that if ever the global economy needs a psychological injection of some confidence in the arm, it’s now, and that can be delivered by a positive outcome on Doha,” Rudd said.

“But what we have agreed, again, as strong, long-term supporters of free trade around the world, as one of the best drivers of global economic growth, is to work very closely together in the months ahead to try and get a good, positive outcome for Doha-good for our economy, good for the American economy, good for the global economy.”

On his part, Bush said the US is ready to make significant agricultural concessions to reach a new world trade deal if other countries open their markets to more US exports.

“We’re willing to make serious concessions on the agricultural front, but we expect other nations to open up their markets on manufacturing as well as services.” Bush said. “I said it’s possible to achieve a Doha round. He (Rudd), too, believes we should work to achieve a Doha round.”

Bush said they had also talked about the need to work collaboratively to achieve an international agreement in which the US is at the table, along with developing nations like China and India.

“In order for there to be an effective, international agreement, China and India must be participants,” he said.

“Here’s an interesting moment for all of us to recognize that we can become less dependent, in our case, on foreign oil, and at the same time be good stewards of the environment,” Bush said.

The president said he and Rudd had talked about the need to help developing nations improve their environment. “And one way that we can do so is to commit ourselves to tariff-free trade and technologies that promote low carbon energy.

“This is something we’re spending a lot of money on in the United States, and we’ll continue to do so because I happen to believe technologies will enable us to be good stewards of the environment and change our energy habits, which we need to do here in the United States,” he said.

On Tibet, both Bush and Rudd repeated their call to China to exercise restraint and engage the Dalai Lama or his representatives in a informal set of discussions about future possibilities regarding internal arrangements within Tibet.

However, the Australian leader was more vocal about human rights abuses in China.

“It’s absolutely clear that there are human rights abuses in Tibet. That’s clear-cut. We need to be up-front and absolutely straight about what’s going on. We shouldn’t shilly-shally about it,” he said.

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