India to seek logical end to Doha Development Round at WTO

11 Dec 2015


Ahead of the World Trade Organisation ministerial meet in Nairobi next week, India has clarified that the Wpr;d Trade Organisation (WTO) cannot sacrifice the Doha Development Round (DDA) and ignore the decisions made at Bali to facilitate trade for the developed world.

India on Thursday also demanded that the WTO should find special safeguard measures (SSM) to allow developing countries to raise tariffs to withstand a possible surge in import shipments of cheap agricultural products like dairy, poultry and apple.

At the same time, commerce secretary Rita Teaotia said, India has no intention of causing any delays in the new round of negotiations but want the Doha Development Round to reach its logical conclusion before taking up another issue.

''The discussions on a permanent solution have to be based on the paper submitted by the G-33 (which includes India and 45 other developing countries). We are going to insist on a work programme based on it at the Nairobi ministerial meet next week. We will not respond to any one-off proposals (as the one made by the EU),'' Teaotia said.

The G-33 has suggested that either food procurement subsidies be regarded as a non-trade distorting permissible subsidy or be calculated on the basis of prices that reflect current market situation rather than those prevailing almost two decades ago.

She said India will push for a satisfactory resolution of development issues flowing from the Doha Development Round at the trade ministers' meeting in Nairobi on December 15-18 before moving to discussions on new issues such as competition policy, investment and environment.

"We have DDA on the table. Let us achieve outcomes there. We don't want DDA to be dispensed with. We hope there is political will from all member countries...our intention is not to delay anything, Teaotia said while addressing the media in Delhi.

Commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman has already clarified India's position - that India should not be penalised for seeking a permanent solution to its food security problem after the country agreed to a package that included a trade facilitation agreement.

But, she said, "I am not looking at the permanent solution to public stockholding as a demand because I presume it's been agreed in Bali... Let's honour Bali ... let's deliver Bali."

However, Sitharaman was clear that trade facilitation cannot be the flooding of other countries' markets with cheap subsidised products as China currently does.

On the other hand, there is a greater need to move ahead on the issue of food security as it would allow the government to ensure better returns to farmers and produce sufficient food to meet the requirements of the public distribution system.

"Our wish-list would certainly be that we say no to the differential treatment... I certainly want SSM to protect (farmers) from any surge (in imports) that may happen," the minister added.

Commerce secretary Rita Teaotia, meanwhile, said the demand for special safeguard measure against an import surge is a facility that is already available to several countries. Besides, it is meant to counter dumping of cheap subsidised products from developed countries.

The developed countries, however, are demanding that the Doha Development Round of negotiations should be ignored and new issues like trade facilitation be included in trade talks.

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