After having successfully led the move to set in motion the re-energising of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Round talks, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Thursday said substantial progress was made on several issues and the negotiators will do some “serious talking” during their November-end meeting to close the gaps on various issues.

“Substantial progress has been made on a large number of issues including agriculture concerns, Non Agriculture Market Access (NAMA) and services. We will work now to close the gaps with serious talks. As a direct outcome of the Delhi Ministerial meeting, the chief negotiators of all countries met in Geneva in the week of September 14 and the Chairs of Agriculture and NAMA have drawn up a working plan for the next three months. The WTO Ministerial meeting scheduled to be held in the end of November will review the progress of the Doha Round,” Mr. Sharma told journalists during an informal chat.

Asked if India was going into the negotiations with some flexibility, Mr. Sharma said: “One does not go into multilateral negotiations with a “frozen mind.” I will be meeting U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk some time next month and discuss important issues. The G-20 meeting currently under way at Pittsburgh is also going to discuss the progress of the WTO talks.”

Mr. Sharma said India believed in engaging with the countries in difficult times as it was the only way to ensure global integration of economies. “We are against any kind of short term measures. Every day a few countries are taking steps that are nothing short of protectionism. India has positioned itself to cope with the challenging environment and we are also working at promoting investments into the country.”

Stating that India was widening its horizon of trade and engagement , Mr. Sharma said apart from holding talks on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union, India was also negotiating the FTA with Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada. All these talks are at different stages of negotiations.

He also ruled out any further stimulus package for exporters stating that they have to look for a diversification of their portfolio and lessen dependence on the Western world for higher volumes.

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