Sensing another failure in concluding the Doha Round of trade talks, India on Tuesday advocated finding a middle ground for reaching a deal on the World trade Organization (WTO) sponsored talks.
WTO chief Pascal Lamy had recently expressed disappointment over the poor progress of the trade talks and had warned of failure to conclude the talks by the end of 2011. The trade ministers of key WTO member countries, including India, would meet on the sidelines of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) meeting in Paris in the last week of May.
Mr. Lamy along with the heads of the three negotiating groups — on agriculture, industrial goods and services — would be present, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters here. He said a middle path had to be found for clinching a deal in trade talks to avoid any kind of failure that would hurt world trade.
After intense negotiations in Geneva at the official level, the three negotiating groups had come up with specific proposals.
These would be reviewed by India to ascertain whether they met the consistent stand taken by the developing countries for removing the historic distortions in global trade.
Mr. Sharma would review the progress of the talks, particularly from the point of view of the developing countries like India next week. Last week in a statement, Mr. Lamy said: “I believe we are confronted with a clear political gap which, as things stand, under the NAMA (non-agricultural market access) framework now on the table and from what I have heard in my consultations is not bridgeable today.''
However, India's position that any global trade agreement must have a development dimension of the developing countries was not diluted, Mr. Sharma said.
He said in the last decade, a lot of time and resources had been invested, especially by the developing countries (in negotiations). They should not be lost. Gains already made must be protected.
“In the protracted talks, while there remain a large areas of differences between the developed and developing countries on opening of the market, there are several issues of consensus as well. These include special dispensation for the developing nations on freeing the market for agricultural and industrial products,'' he said.
On rich nations' demand, especially from the U.S. that WTO members should agree for zero duties on specific sectors, Mr. Sharma made it clear that the choice should not be mandatory and should be voluntary.