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Artificial prices hurt trade: Nath

March 15, 2005 09:30 IST

Commerce Minister Kamal Nath on Monday warned against the artificially low prices created by developed countries.

The developing countries will be discouraged from opening up their markets if the developed countries continue with the lower prices driven by domestic support and subsidies, Nath said in a CII meeting with a Belgian delegation.

"When market access is sought on artificial prices, it is not fair. In India, farming is not commerce. We have 600 million farmers depending on it for subsistence. Our farmer can compete with the farmer in developed country but not their governments," he said.

While India was opening its own markets for imports by lowering tariff unilaterally, developed nations were resorting to non-tariff barriers, Nath said. India did not want to shut out its market for imports but only sought "fair and equitable" pricing devoid of any subsidy, he added.

"Non-tariff barriers are causing concern. We see barriers, which are outside health and safety ambit, driven by commercial interests. We seek your understanding on these issues," Nath said.

The minister also warned against any attempt to create a divide among developing nations and said that bringing any new issue outside the Doha mandate will only offtrack trade talks.

"When we try to segregate developing countries, we try to get issues which are outside Doha mandate. If we move offtrack we may be creating more problems than we will be solving," he said.

On services, he said India was looking aggressively at Mode 1 and 2 (cross-border services like business process outsourcing and overseas presence) and will respond to Mode 3 and 4 (consumption of services abroad and movement of natural persons) eventually.

Meanwhile, India and Belgium on Monday signed five memoranda of understanding to strengthen trade and investment relations. CII signed three MoU with Belgian companies Agoria, VBO and Flanders Institute of Logistics.

IBA Pharma of Belgium and M K Ali Manekia, a non-residential Indian signed a MoU for research and development activities. While IBA Molecuar Imaging, a Belgian imaging company signed a MoU with Indian diagonstic laboratories Dewanchand Agarwal for molecular research.
BS Corporate Bureau in New Delhi