Anand Sharma led the India delegation at the three-day WTO ministerial conference attended by trade ministers of 153 member-countries which ended in Geneva on Wednesday

India has not changed its position on agriculture and industry at the World Trade Organisation negotiations on freeing global trade to protect the interests of its farmers and small enterprises, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has said.

“There was no change in India’s negotiating position in agriculture and Non-Agriculture Market Access (NAMA),” an official release quoted Mr. Sharma as saying.

Mr. Sharma led the India delegation at the three-day WTO ministerial conference attended by trade ministers of 153 member-countries which ended in Geneva on Wednesday.

New Delhi has been pressing for an effective safeguard mechanism to protect the interest of its farmers and small scale sector from any possible surge in imports following liberalisation of world trade.

Addressing a news conference after the conference, Mr. Sharma said though it was not intended as a negotiating forum, the meeting “provided a useful opportunity for different groups and caucuses to assess the direction of the negotiations.”

Mr. Sharma said the first priority should be to conclude the as quickly as possible the Doha Round of talks on liberalising world trade which have floundered since they were launched at the Qatari capital in 2001.

While addressing the working session of the ministerial, Mr. Sharma said India and its coalition partners were steadfast and united in their commitment to safeguard livelihoods, particularly of the poor, subsistence farmers.

Referring to the collapse of trade finance from September 2008 following the global downturn, he underlined the need for rebalancing capital and investment flows, and a freer mobility of labour.

Mr. Sharma also addressed a Ministerial Session of the Negotiating Committee of the Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP), which adopted the Draft Ministerial Decision on Modalities for the Third Round of Global System of Trade Preferences negotiations.

“India attaches a great deal of importance to the GSTP process for optimising South-South synergies and expanding trade among developing countries,” he said.

India exchanged tariff concessions with 14 countries in the first GSTP Round in 1989.

Mr. Sharma also met his counterparts from Argentina, Malaysia and Australia, during which a range of issues, including the Doha Round, were discussed.

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