labels: economy - general, trade
Government expects US to now get more protectionist news
10 November 2006

The government expects the United States to get more protectionist with the Democratic Party gaining control of the US Congress. Seeing no quick conclusion to the WTO talks, it is pressing ahead with free trade agreements, reports CNBC-TV18.

Two years ago, a few months after taking office, prime minister Manmohan Singh had said that caution was needed on Free Trade Agreements on the way to Bangkok. Earlier this year, Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, expressed worries about the impact of the India-Asean FTA on the farming community. Now FTAs seems to be acquiring urgency as the WTO talks have floundered. Commerce secretary, G K Pillai, says, "With Democrats taking charge, they are supposed to be more protectionist than the Republicans, the Doha talks are in a state of flux."

Though talks at the WTO level, that includes all countries, is the best bet, India believes that it cannot shy away from regional trading agreements to gain access to markets, as trade''s share of GDP is expected to rise substantially from under a fifth now.

Under a WTO agreement, a free trade agreement with developed countries is to have covered substantially all trade. India is in negotiations for an FTA with Asean and for another with EU, so the commerce secretary wants industry to press for domestic reform as and when these negotiations are concluded.

Not just industry, the government itself will have to reinvent itself to facilitate trade. The commerce ministry is working on a plan to put all files on the computer so that it can dispose off each of them in around two hours, from the current stately pace of 22 hours.


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Government expects US to now get more protectionist