World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo and Chair of the Ninth Ministerial and Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan held a series of meetings into the morning hours of Friday with Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman, raising hopes that a compromise Bali Package may still be possible by breakfast. After several rounds of meetings with the two sides, the Director-General called them face-to-face. This after the European Union climbed down to say that it would agree to a compromise package if other countries also did so.
Earlier in the day on Thursday, India proposed a partial package comprising the agreed texts and a commitment to negotiate further the contentious issues.
“If only 8/10 texts are adopted and the remaining two negotiated, heavens will not fall on earth,” Mr. Sharma said at a press conference. India has endorsed 8/10 texts on the table and is willing to negotiate on the outstanding chapters on Trade Facilitation, he said.
The Minister reiterated India’s stand that no agreement in Bali was better than a bad agreement. He said India was not seeking a dispute or compromise but a mature understanding from the U.S., the EU and other developed countries on food security. “We stand for strengthening the WTO and correcting the historical imbalances,” he said, referring to the developed countries’ massive income support subsidies to farmers.
After the presser, he hosted lunch to leaders of 20 key South American, African and Least Developed Countries. Later, Indian delegates met the WTO Director-General, who is holding consultations with the U.S. and the EU to arrive at an agreeable Bali Package.
At the press conference, Mr. Sharma said that for ending the stalemate, the Indian negotiators had proposed that the prices to which the WTO caps on subsidies to farmers for food security were calibrated be updated. “We have been saying that update the prices so that we can come to 21st Century and not be held hostage to prices in the 1980s,” said Mr. Sharma. “They want it to be binding on us to accept 1980 prices and make ourselves vulnerable to disputes.”
The Minister turned the issue into one of poor versus developed countries. “They want binding commitments from us on Trade Facilitation but are offering only a temporary Peace Clause,” he said, adding the