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Doha: India for middle ground to clinch global trade deal

Source: PTI
April 26, 2011 17:30 IST
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WTOAmid World Trade Organization chief Pascal Lamy's disappointment over the tardy progress of Doha Round of negotiations, India said on Tuesday 'a middle ground' has to be found for reaching the global trade deal.

Trade ministers of key WTO member countries, including India would meet on the sidelines of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting in Paris in the last week of May.

WTO director general Pascal Lamy and heads of the three negotiating groups -- on agriculture, industrial goods and services -- would also be present, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters in New Delhi.

After intense negotiations in Geneva at the official level, the three negotiating groups have come up with specific proposals.

These will be reviewed by India to ascertain whether they meet the consistent stand taken by the developing countries for removing the historic distortions in global trade.

Sharma would review the progress of the talks, particularly from the point of view of the developing countries like India next week.

Asked to comment on Lamy's remarks where he had expressed grave concern about the state of affairs in the decade-old Doha negotiations, Sharma said, "A middle ground has to be found".

Last week in a statement, Lamy said :"I believe we are confronted with a clear political gap which, as things stand, under the NAMA (industrial goods) framework currently on the table and from what I

have heard in my consultations, is not bridgeable today."

However, India's position that any global trade agreement must have a development dimension of the developing countries is not diluted, Sharma said.

He said in the last decade, "A lot of time and resources have been invested, especially by the developing countries (in negotiations. They should not be lost. Gains already made must be protected".

In the protracted talks, while there remain a large areas of differences between the developed and developing countries on opening of the market, there are several issues of consensus as well.

These include special dispensation for the developing nations on freeing the market for agricultural and industrial products.

On the demand of the rich nations, especially from the US that the WTO countries should agree for zero duties on specific sectors, Sharma made it clear the choice should not be mandatory and should be voluntary.

"These (sectoral liberalisation) are 'no go areas' and it has to be voluntary", he said.

Doha round of talks under the aegis of the WTO started in the Qatar capital in 2001 for achieving a global trade deal, but a breakthrough has not emerged as yet.

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