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Opposition fires salvo at govt on WTO

December 08, 2009 16:59 IST

After the heat it faced on climate change stand for the Copenhagen summit, the government on Tuesday came under scanner as the Opposition felt that India might come under US pressure on the trade talks in WTO.

"There have been illustrations where we seemed to be getting pressured by developed countries," Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha while participating in a calling attention discussion on the WTO negotiations. He asked Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma to refrain from mixing foreign policy with trade policy.

"Please keep the current close proximity in the foreign policy away from the trading policy," the senior BJP leader said. Taking a jibe at the government for following the "Jai Ho America policy", SP leader Amar Singh said the interest of farmers in the country have to be protected even if the government "bows" before the US on the climate change.

However, Sharma rejected the charges saying, "There is no question of being pro-America. We are pro-India. The national interest is supreme to us. We are not under pressure."

The Commerce Minister has recently returned from Geneva after attending the 7th Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation. Though it was not a negotiating conference, the issue of freeing global commerce through Doha deal dominated the discussions at the WTO headquarters.

After the heat it faced on climate change stand for the Copenhagen summit, the government on Tuesday came under scanner as the Opposition felt that India might come under US pressure on the trade talks in WTO.

"There have been illustrations where we seemed to be getting pressured by developed countries," Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha while participating in a calling attention discussion on the WTO negotiations.

He asked Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma to refrain from mixing foreign policy with trade policy. "Please keep the current close proximity in the foreign policy away from the trading policy," the senior BJP leader said.

Taking a jibe at the government for following the "Jai Ho America policy", SP leader Amar Singh said the interest of farmers in the country have to be protected even if the government "bows" before the US on the climate change.

However, Sharma rejected the charges saying, "There is no question of being pro-America. We are pro-India. The national interest is supreme to us. We are not under pressure."

The Commerce Minister has recently returned from Geneva after attending the 7th Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation. Though it was not a negotiating conference, the issue of freeing global commerce through Doha deal dominated the discussions at the WTO headquarters.

Sharma said India has made it clear at the WTO negotiations that historical distortions must be corrected and farmers' livelihood and food security must be protected in any trade agreement.

Allaying Opposition's fears that the government may come under pressure, he said, "Even if the US and the EU have their expectations, it does not mean they would get what they demand." On the specific issue of service negotiations, which the Leader of Opposition said were slow, Sharma said the Doha agreement has to include liberalisation in this area as well which is of interest to India.

"We are clear it has to be concluded in a single undertaking." Referring to agriculture, Sharma said India's bound tariff of 114 per cent gave it enough room for negotiations and protecting the interests of farmers.

On industrial products, he said there was no question of India yielding and the principle of zero-for-zero duty cuts in some sectors has to be non-mandatory.

About concerns of high level of subsidies paid to farmers in developed nations, Sharma said India has made it clear that these subsidies would have to cut drastically. "There cannot be any agreement with these subsidies," he said.

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