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Jaitley to lead Indian delegation to WTO
September 06, 2003 13:47 IST
Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley will lead a high-power delegation to the World Trade Organisation ministerial beginning at Cancun in Mexico on September 10 in which India and other developing countries are expected to lock horns with the United States and European Union on issues like agriculture, Singapore and market access to industrial products.
Armed with a broad consensus from political parties, trade unions and the Indian industry, Jaitley leaves for Cancun on Sunday with a clear brief to oppose non-trade Singapore issues being brought into the work programme of the WTO.
The four Singapore issues comprise trade and investment, competition policy, trade facilitation and trasparency in government procurement. Negotiations could begin on these issues only after the modalities are worked out with explicit consensus at Cancun.
Technically, explicit consensus means that all 146 members should agree to the modalities, failing which negotiations could not begin.
Jaitley has already made it clear that India would stand "firm" in opposing the Singapore issues even at the risk of being isolated.
Jaitley would be accompanied by Minister of State for Commerce S B Mukherjee, commerce secretary Dipak Chaterjee, additonal secretary S N Menon, senior officials from the ministries of external affairs, agriculture, textiles, small scale industries and those from CII and FICCI.
Jaitley has already held extensive consultations with all stakeholders including political parties and trade unions, in the run-up to Cancun.
He also held an interactive session with interest groups and stakeholders represented in the ministry's advisory committee on international trade which includes representatives of industry associations as well as NGOs.
India has been actively participating in the negotiations on various issues included in the Doha work programme and has consistently taken the stand that the development dimension of the work programme should not be diluted at any cost.
Agriculture is crucial to India as 650 million farmers depended on it for livelihood and any trade negotiation would be meaningless if it fails to improve the living conditions of poor farmers.
This cannot be achieved unless there was a significant and meaningful reduction in domestic support and all forms of export subsidies by developed nations.
Concerns relating to food security and livelihood of farmers too would have to be addressed through effective protection for their produce and sufficient flexibility to apply safeguards to address different situations.