World trade deal just a dollar away, says Kamal Nath

17 Jun 2008


Mumbai: India and other developing countries are ready for a deal on the Doha round of trade negotiations if the US agrees to cut farm subsidies by just one dollar, commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath said.

Kamal Nath''My offer to the US is that they should reduce their subsidy by just one dollar and we have a deal," Kamal Nath said at a conference on globalisation, organised by FICCI and the University of Oxford.

The Doha Round of world trade negotiations failed to make progress because of the US stance on agriculture. While successive  US negotiators have been promising that the US would reduce their farm subsidies by 60 per cent or more, the new farm bill has done just the opposite.

Instead, Nath said, ''they (US) say, forget about reducing the subsidy even by a single dollar, we want to have a right to double it in the next 10 years."

Nath, who had several rounds of talks with US officials, including trade representative Susan Schwab, said there was some progress in the talks.

The US, however, is accusing India of wrecking the negotiations by ''working behind the scenes".
India, Nath said, was not alone in airing differences with the US on the issue of farm subsidies, livelihood concerns and opening market for industrial products.

There are 100 other countries that share similar concerns on trade distorting US farm subsidies, he said.

''There is no question of India destroying any deal. There are 100 other countries which share most of our concerns," he said.
Meanwhile, World Trade Organisation director-general, Pascal Lamy said the trade talks are being held up because of a bad farm bill passed by the US Congress at a wrong time.

Lamy, himself a protectionist, said the farm bill is sending a signal that US government leaders are ''not serious about reducing their subsidies.''

The negotiations for a new WTO agreement, which began in Doha, Qatar, are now into their seventh year with no end in sight.

The EC and developing countries such as Brazil, China and India were waiting for the US Congress to change its stance on the farm bill rather than giving more concessions to the US.

But the US looks still bent on acquiescing more from the EU, Brazil and India for a unilateral reduction in US farm subsidies.

See Video:  Kamal Nath on why he is optimistic about the Indian economy

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