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|April 29, 1999||
Government calls for industry involvement in WTO talks
The government today called for comprehensive industry involvement in the process of preparation for India's mandate in the World Trade Organisation ministerial meet in November.
Special secretary, ministry of commerce, N N Khanna, asked for detailed, specific but WTO-compatible demands from the industry that could be included as part of India's mandate for the WTO negotiations.
''There is only a limited timeframe in which the Indian industry can submit its demands,'' he told delegates at the national conference and annual session of the Confederation of Indian Industry.
He said industry associations like the CII must constitute bodies that would work exclusively on putting forward proposals representing their members. The demands should be issue-based and not on the basis of being a developed country.
Khanna said it is a fallacy that Indian negotiators in the Uruguay round did not do a good job as the country had negotiated for itself industrial tariff bindings of 25 to 40 per cent, much higher than almost all countries.
Since one of the major points of criticism was lack of transparency in negotiations, the commerce ministry has taken strong steps to involve industry and experts in preparing for the millennium round of talks.
Khanna said among areas of concern for India are: non-implementation of several clauses aimed at providing a level-playing field in the global market for developing countries, deepening of concessions to developing countries to bring them more on a level with obligations, increasing use of non-tariff barriers by industrialised countries and manipulation of tariff structures in developed countries so that they have high protection in sectors they do not have a comparative advantage in and vice-versa.
He said the developed countries are structuring tariffs in a way that market access is only being provided for low value-added products.
Earlier, former commerce secretary A V Ganesan said the WTO is a product of globalisation and its basic premise is opening up of world markets.
''Since globalisation is an irreversible and unavoidable process, the only solution is to improve efficiency and competitiveness of the Indian enterprises.''
Ganesan outlined the demands of industrialised countries in the millennium round of negotiations as being: reduction in industrial tariffs, radical liberalisation of trade in agriculture, a multilateral agreement on investment, transparency in government procurement, further liberalisation of trade in services, linking trade rules with environmental and labour standards.
''The European Union and Japan are likely to ask for large reductions in industrial tariffs by developing countries in exchange for opening the market for agriculture. This is one of the most important issues for developing countries to consider.''
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