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|March 6, 1999||
Hegde calls for scrutiny of WTO role, highlights Third World economies' plight
Union Commerce Minister Ramakrishna Hegde said that "time has come to assess and review the role of the World Trade Organisation in implementing its policies and values" that were originally accepted by India towards globalisation of trade and services.
He said this while addressing the national seminar on global competition -- Temper and Tempo, organised by the Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship Development of Pune.
Hegde said India must check if the WTO rules, etc, are adhered to by other member-nations, before going for the next round of negotiations. He pointed out agriculture, financial services and investment in this context.
Integration of national economies would remove restrictions in the international movement of capital, goods and services. However, the developing countries will increasingly face non-tariff barriers like anti-subsidy and anti-dumping actions, stringent quality and environmental standards, he observed.
"This is not the type of global competition that we have been looking forward to," he said.
Hegde advocated that developing countries should be given special and differential treatment to place them on a level playing field and compete effectively in global trade without any visible and invisible barriers to the trade.
He expressed concern over the slowdown in world trade (hardly one per cent this year). He said global competition led to fall in the unit value of export of many Indian commodities and manufactures. This affected exports.
Exports during April-January period (1998-99) were estimated at $ 27.15 billion, down 1.98 per cent from the corresponding period of last year. In rupee terms, exports registered a growth of 11.98 per cent during the same period.
Uneven supply of exportable surplus of agricultural and allied products, constraint of infrastructure and other impediments like high credit cost, not so congenial labour laws, slow rate of modernisation in sectors like textiles and leather, poor quality of power and inability to attract investment in the export industries are some of the reasons for the dismal performance in exports, he explained.
Further, the currency crisis in Asian, Latin American and Russian markets coupled with trade barriers faced in the European Union markets had affected the growth in our exports, Hegde said.
The current global trend of forming regional blocks is offering real global competition and is also moving in that direction through the formation of South Asian Free Trade Area comprising the SAARC countries. "We will have to make our products competitive in international markets through better quality, cost reduction and efficient workforce with better skill and technology,'' he said.
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