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|May 14, 1999||
Secy-level group formed to fine-tune India's stand on WTO
The government has constituted a nine-member inter-departmental group on the World Trade Organisation under the chairmanship of Commerce Secretary P P Prabhu for better coordination on issues relating to the WTO.
''The group would ensure effective preparation on WTO issues, devise a communication strategy for wider discussion and building up of a national consensus on India's negotiating position, and deal with all WTO-related aspects of India's interface with foreign countries to optimise India's negotiating leverage, and decision-making in the WTO,'' an official media statement said.
Those in the group are: secretaries of commerce, agriculture, external affairs (economic relations), finance, industry, law, textiles, besides the secretary to the prime minister, the Prime Minister's Office, and the director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations has expressed concern at the increasing resort to anti-dumping measures against developing countries, especially India, by the developed world, and the pressure being brought upon to hasten adherence to the world trade regime.
The widespread apprehensions that trade and industry have about India rushing in to meet the WTO requirements, are coming true, the FIEO president Navratan Samdria said.
That the Indian government, and also the country's trade and industry fraternity, is still not thoroughly conversant with all the implications of the WTO agreements, Samdria said, is highlighted by the case of imposition of countervailing duties on Indian stainless steel bars by Europe.
In this context, Samdria said, trade and industry also has to do ''a WTO audit,'' and provide the government a complete feedback and supportive arguments to place its case effectively at the WTO.
He complimented Commerce Minister Ramakrishna Hegde for being aware of all the aspects of the issue. At the first consultative meeting of commerce secretaries of SAARC on May 10, Hegde and his officials said they were aware of the developed countries' efforts to thwart attempts of India and other developing countries to access their markets.
Samdria said, the products of labour-intensive small and medium industries of developing countries were particularly targetted, as they were highly competitive.
Such products were being confronted by the US and the EU with many non-tariff barriers on arbitrary grounds by introducing concerns about environment, safety, wages and social conditions of workers.
Double standards and distortions in the interpretation and application of the WTO norms were being seen every day, and therefore, India should join hands with other similarly-placed countries to address them, he added.
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