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Survey for flexible agri policies

July 07, 2004 15:11 IST

With the World Trade Organisation talks entering a crucial phase, the Economic Survey on Wednesday asserted that food security and livelihood concerns were of great importance to India and said flexibility in domestic policies for agriculture should be incorporated in trade rules.

Economic Survey 2003-2004: Complete Coverage

"India's position in these negotiations continues to be underpinned by the fact that a vast majority of people are dependent on agriculture characterised by subsistence and small scale farming," the Survey said adding that with large population living below the poverty line availability of food at affordable prices was of crucial importance.

Noting that efforts were on to conclude a package agreement by this month end, the Survey said it would include framework agreements on agriculture and non-agriculture market access, which could expand on the Doha mandate and lay down broad principles for future negotiations of detailed modalities.

It highlighted that trade talks had been energised after the collapse of WTO Ministerial at Cancun through a process of developing a broader understanding on general principles that would guide the negotiators in their subsequent work in agriculture.

Commending the role of G-20, an alliance of developing nations including India, in successfully bringing back the focus in the negotiations on substantial reductions in distortions in agriculture due to high level of subsidies in developed countries, the Survey said the Group had maintained an inclusive approach to accommodate the concerns and specific interests of other developing countries.

On non-agriculture market access, the Survey noted the draft presented at the Cancun Ministerial provided certain flexibility for developing countries.

It had proposed that upto 10 per cent of tariff lines could have less than the formula based levels of cuts and further left the scope of mandatory participation in the sectoral initiative more open.

On Singapore issues, the Survey highlighted that emerging consensus at WTO appeared to be in the direction of finalisation of modalities for negotiations on trade facilitation while other three issues of investment, competition and transparency in government procurement would cease to be a part of the Doha agenda.

The proposed July package is also expected to cover implementation issues and issues related to special and differential treatment.

Recognising services as a major area for the country's growth, the Survey said India and developing countries had targeted a range of restrictions in developed country markets related to economic needs test, the processing of visa applications, residency requirements, recognition of educational qualifications and security contributions.

On Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights, and Agreement and Convention on Biological Diversity and the protection of traditional knowledge, India has proposed that the multilateral register should be extended for products other than wines and spirits, it said.

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