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India wants Doha agenda on track
T V Parasuram | September 26, 2005 16:45 IST
India on Monday asked developed WTO members to "soften" their positions to end the impasse over world trade talks and to put the Doha Development Agenda "back on track".
"The progress in this regard has been disappointing, considering the hopes that were raised after the July framework agreement," Finance Minister P Chidambaram told the joint IMF-World Bank development committee.
It is imperative, the Minister said, that the global community reaches a consensus on ambitious development outcomes at Hong Kong for putting the Doha Development Agenda "back on track" and urged the World Bank "to play an intensive role of global advocacy as a spokesman for the interest of developing countries" and encourage developed countries to soften their positions.
"May be the time has come for abandoning well-known positions and for upholding the Monterrey view, which had recognised that international trade is an engine for development and cautioned against trade barriers, trade distorting subsidies and other trade-distorting measures," Chidambaram said.
Chidambaram said, the forthcoming ministerial must focus upon, inter alia, negotiating modalities on agriculture and manufacturers, and make dedicated progress on services, rules and trade facilitation asserting "there is no substitute for an ambitious pro-poor deal at the Doha Round."
"Given the difficulties faced in reaching consensus on 'first approximations' on agriculture and non-agriculture market access, the Bank and the international community would have to play an intense and proactive role at Hong Kong, if the Doha round is to be completed by 2006."
"Countries that pursue such policies (subsidies), especially in agriculture which lies at the core of the Doha agenda should be aware of the perilous impact their decisions would have on the food and livelihood security of millions of subsistence farmers in poor countries and in terms of the opportunities for progress they deny to developing nations."
Chidambaram also stressed on the need to work towards ambitious outcomes in the services sector "where global negotiations have not made enough headway."
"Restricting the movement of professionals across the world," he declared, "is unnatural and, ultimately, to the detriment of developed countries themselves. Significant results in the services negotiations remain essential to achieve a balanced outcome of the Doha Round."
The Bank, given its development mandate, he said, must in the weeks ahead play an intensive role of global advocacy as a spokesman for the interest of developing countries.
It must encourage developed countries to soften their positions and remove the barriers to development that they have erected which result in lost opportunities for many developing countries, he added.
The Bank's initiative to provide "aid for trade" is laudable and will help loosen the supply side constraint in many developing countries, said Chidambaram.
"However, pursuing the initiative calls for revisiting the issue of special and differential treatment and assessing what kind of S&D facilities will facilitate the goals for national development as well as expansion of global trade.
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