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Home > Business > Business Headline > Report

Indian industry bodies slam WTO draft text

BS Corporate Bureau in New Delhi | September 15, 2003 14:07 IST

The Indian business and industry chambers termed the draft ministerial declaration released by the World Trade Organisation on Saturday as a "disaster". They said the draft failed to reflect the views of a number of developing and least developed countries.

The Confederation of Indian Industry said the draft resolution was completely in favour of developed countries and ignored the needs and interests of poor nations.

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The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said the draft was flawed on agriculture, since it did not address most of the concerns and viewpoints of India and other developing nations as articulated in the proposals submitted by the G-21, an amalgam of developing countries.

In a statement, CII said on agriculture, an issue which deeply concerned developing economies, the draft text was "totally unacceptable, insensitive and unbelievable."

Ignoring all past discussions on the Singapore issues of investment, competition policy, trade facilitation and transparency in government procedure, the draft negotiated only on the last two, CII noted.

"The draft resolution in the present format is not acceptable. It is a disaster," CII president Anand Mahindra said.

On the issues of implementation, cotton, special and differential treatment, the CII expressed its disappointment with the draft text, as there was a clear deviation from past understandings and the spirit of the Doha Development Agenda.

"The latest draft has failed to correctly reflect the views and positions of a large number of developing and least developed countries, and requires a fundamental change in several areas," Ficci secretary-general Amit Mitra said.

"The draft is extremely weak when it comes to domestic support where it completely ignores developing countries' demand for elimination of Article 6.5 of the Agreement of Agriculture," Mitra said.

While the Indian government and business have been demanding that the 'green box' subsidies should be brought under a discipline, the draft's treatment of green box was ambiguous, Mitra added.

According to Ficci, on the issue of export subsidies, too, the draft was not in line with the Doha mandate since it did not allow continuation of export subsidies, particularly by developed countries for an unspecified period.

"Developed nations have managed to insert an additional flexibility in terms of exceptions while reducing tariffs exceeding the negotiated maximum figure," Mitra said.

Pointing out that the draft had ridiculously backtracked not only from the Doha Declaration but also from the first revised draft of Cancun, Ficci said, "This latest draft has altogether brushed aside views and opinions of India and several other countries." On market access for farm products, the draft was particularly harsh on developing countries,
Mitra said.

"The three-step tariff reduction package (including the Swiss formula) applicable for developing countries would imply a steep reduction in our agricultural tariffs, which is not acceptable," Ficci added.

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