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India making efforts to revive WTO talks, says Kamal Nath

Special Correspondent

Urges developed countries to take a leadership role

— Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

MOVING FORWARD: Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Kamal Nath (left), shaking hands with Harsha V. Singh, Deputy Director General, WTO, prior to a meeting on `The Doha Development Agenda: Prospects and India's role' in New Delhi on Tuesday. Saroj K. Poddar, President, FICCI, looks on.

NEW DELHI: India is making a last ditch effort to revive global trade talks but has made it clear that the interest of the country's farmers and infant industries will not be compromised in the Doha round.

Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, while underlining the country's commitment to a rule-based multilateral trading system, has said the Government remains in touch with key trading nations as well as the Director General of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy.

Correcting distortions

Mr. Kamal Nath urged the developed countries to take a leadership role in moving the Doha process forward by correcting distortions in the global trading system, especially in agriculture.

Addressing a seminar organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) here on Tuesday, he said the WTO talks in Geneva last month collapsed as there were big gaps in the mindsets of developing and developed countries.

Low average tariffs

He pointed out that India was already giving market access to the European Union and the U.S. with the average applied tariffs on imports from the EU being six per cent and on imports from the U.S. being 5.7 per cent in 2005-06. This did not include some products such as wines and spirits and automobiles, he added.

The Minister said the U.S. and other rich nations must make substantial cuts in farm subsidies for the round to go forward. Besides, he said, even in services, the U.S. offer was exactly the same as it had offered during the Uruguay Round of negotiations. Regarding demands by some U.S. Congressmen that India, Brazil and other developing counries should not be given benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), he said review of GSP was a normal process and the GSP was not linked to the current impasse at the WTO.

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