Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has said that there is no dilution in the position of India on a fair and equitable multilateral trade regime even when the country has to make greater efforts for regional economic arrangements of free trade.
Answering questions on the revival of the Doha negotiations, Mr. Sharma told The-Hindu here on Saturday that he was confident that the talks would eventually lead to the establishment of the trade regime that would protect vulnerable sectors of industry and address livelihood concerns of subsistence farmers of developing countries.
At the same time, India, a rising economy in the world, should enter into the regional arrangements of free trade and economic cooperation. This was essential as its share of global commerce was hardly two per cent.
Stressing the importance of the Doha talks, the Union Minister said the core agenda was development. “The developing countries have most to gain and much to lose from success or failure. At the same time, the developed countries have realised that in the emerging global paradigm, it is an imperative economic engagement.”
Calling for corrections in the distortions of global trade, he said there could not be two trade regimes, one for the developing countries and another for the developed ones. There should be one regime, which was global. “What this round of WTO [World Trade Organisation] negotiations seeks to achieve is that the developing countries have better access [to market].”
On initiatives taken by India on the revival of the talks, Mr. Sharma recalled how the Delhi Ministerial meeting, held in September last, was able to generate consensus on the necessity to revive the process. “The negotiations are still proceeding well since then,” he said.
In line with India’s stand, the two draft reports on agriculture and non-agriculture marketing access were being used as the basis for the talks.
On forming dedicated investment and manufacturing zones, the Minister explained the need for giving push to the manufacturing sector. Though the sector had grown in the last 20 years, its share in the country’s Gross Domestic Product remained what it was in 1991. It would be desirable for the sector to account for 25 per cent of the GDP.
The Minister denied press reports that at the meeting between Union Ministers of State and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday last, he [Mr. Sharma] came in for criticism as he had refused to share work with his junior Minister.
Calling himself a product of the student and youth movement, he said that “as a matter of conviction,” he was always encouraging younger people.
Pointing out that there was, at present, one Minister of State in his Ministry compared to two (Jairam Ramesh and Ashwani Kumar) in the previous United Progressive Alliance government, Mr. Sharma said that now the responsibilities given to the two Ministers of State in the past had been put together — and much more added — and given to the present Minister of State (Jyotiraditya Scindia).