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India asks rich nations to cut farm subsidies

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: As negotiators from across the globe settled down in Geneva to resume the multilateral trade talks on Monday, India expressed the hope that the rich nations would provide the leadership by pruning their subsidies on agriculture and removing the distortions in global farm trade.

“We do hope that developed countries will provide a leadership role and not thwart the process of Doha negotiations,” Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said.

An Indian team is in Geneva to negotiate on farm subsidies, after which talks will follow on industrial tariffs or ‘Non-Agricultural Market Access’ (NAMA).

In a bid to take the stalled negotiations forward, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on July 17 circulated two separate drafts, one on agriculture and the other on NAMA, prepared by their respective chairs, Crawford Falconer and Don Stephenson.

The new NAMA proposal suggested that the European Union slash its highest tariffs to the extent of 73 per cent, against its offer of 70 per cent. It also sought from India a reduction in duties on industrial products to an average of about 12 per cent.

Alongside, the WTO mediators recommended that the U.S. farm subsidies be capped at $16.4 billion, compared to Washington’s offer of $17 billion.

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