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Deadlock at WTO: Nations clash
K R Sudhaman in Cancun | September 12, 2003 17:00 IST
The Fifth World Trade Organisation Ministerial currently underway in Cancun, Mexico was caught in a deadlock over attempts by the rich nations to steamroll their way on trade and investment issues as developing countries, including India, stoutly opposed.
India and 14 other countries got into a new league to oppose the conference taking up Singapore issues like investment and competition policy rules, trade facilitation and transparency in government procurement.
Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley and Malaysian Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz told a joint press conference that they would in no way agree to starting negotiations on the four Singapore issues.
"The countries who do not want negotiations are in majority," she said ruling out any unbundling of the four issues as a compromise.
As the ministerial got into the nitty-gritty of negotiations past midnight, five facilitators, appointed by the conference chairman and Mexican Foreign Minister Louis Ernesto Debrez to resolve contentious issues like agriculture and Singapore, swung into action having parleys with member countries and pressure groups.
On the contentious Singapore issues, which provides for among other things working out investment and competition rules within the WTO, Canadian Trade Minister, Pierre Pettigrew said at the end of the first day a number of developing countries including India have pointed out that it was evident that there was no consensus on the Singapore issues.
"There are two options -- either to agree to launch a negotiations or refer the issue back to Geneva for clarification," he said on behalf of some members who have submitted a paper identifying points for further clarification.A smaller group of developing countries said that each Singapore issue should be considered on its own merits.
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