Adopting a tough stand a day ahead of the WTO informal ministerial meeting in Paris, India issued a veiled warning against the attempts by the developed nations to re-open issues on which substantial progress has been made stating it would be counterproductive.

Speaking ahead of the crucial meeting, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said India would not accept attempts by developed countries to shift goal posts of the Doha mandate that called for an equitable global trade deal. “We are also opposed to any kind of rush to complete the Doha multilateral negotiating round. The progress already made must be protected. India views such an attempt to shift goal posts as unacceptable and as a violation of the mandate,” Mr. Sharma said in a statement here.

Mr. Sharma is visiting Paris to take part in the informal WTO ministerial meeting of the select Trade Ministers on the sidelines of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meet in Paris on Thursday. The meeting, which has been convened by Australia, is likely to be attended by Trade Ministers from European Union, the U.S., China and Japan.

Tariff cuts

Mr. Sharma said after taking aggressive cuts in tariff rates under the Swiss Formula, it would be difficult for emerging economies to accept top-ups which are sought to be made mandatory. “Developed countries must appreciate our sensitivities, our autonomous liberalisation, the development dimension and the impact on our local industries in case the developing countries commit to slash import duties,” he added. The developed countries are seeking a multilateral agreement on drastic cuts or elimination of duties in specific areas through the so called sectoral negotiations.

In all, there are 14 products which are under various stages of discussion with respect to the proposal but three sectors are aggressively being pursued by the U.S. and the EU. These are chemicals, electronics and electrical equipment and industrial machinery.

India along with some other nations has been insisting that such a duty elimination should be voluntary and not mandatory. “India does not recognise the April reports of the WTO Director General and heads of negotiating groups as being the revised texts. The texts of December 2008 and the proposals submitted by various members remain the versions under discussion,” he added.

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