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Focus energy at WTO on services — NGO

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI SEPT. 8. At the Cancun WTO Ministerial, India should focus its negotiating energies on export of services rather than frittering it on issues such as agriculture, which will not result in any commercial gain. Of the four export of services related areas, India's gain lies in Mode-4 (movement of temporary persons) and Mode-1 (export of services across borders), stated Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS).

The draft ministerial statement does not explicitly state that concessions should include better market access for workers under Mode-4. "This limitation reflects U.S. transience against Mode-4," noted the NGO. "We have another problem on Mode-1 (export of services such as cell centres and business process outsourcing) where protectionist measures are being contemplated in the West".

"We should seek a cotton sectoral initiatives type approach for these issues," it advised. West African countries have pushed the cotton initiative against the heavy subsidies provided by the U.S., thus affecting their farmers livelihood concerns. This push could be a trade-off with the four Singapore issuesnone of which particularly affect India. "Getting isolated will not get India anything and it will lose what it wants". The NGO believes that India is frittering energy and risks losing negotiating power by backing a Brazil and China led proposal on agriculture and opposing the joint U.S.-E.U. proposal. "India has nothing much to gain or lose and could have been a passive player. That would have given better negotiating rope on other issues like services and non-agricultural market access as also preserve negotiating capital".

"In the ultimate analysis, India needs to understand realpolitik and not rely blindly on alliances which often disappear under pressure. Getting isolated can be bad for India," it observed. CUTS has based its analysis on a recent study with University of Sussex that will be released at Cancun under the title, `Bridging the differences — analysis of five issues of the WTO agenda'.

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