labels: trade
Developed countries blocking a WTO deal, says Kamal Nath news
04 May 2007

Mumbai: Developed countries are trying to go back on their commitment on the development content of Doha Round of WTO talks and are putting new conditions on developing countries, leading to a deadlock in negotiations, commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath said.

"The current freeze we are witnessing is because the debate is being deflected from an unconditional delivery of the development dimension to conditionalities that expose what seem to be the real intention of some," Nath said in his address at the Oxford University.

"We have engaged in this round in the belief that it is a development round. And we aim to continue to proceed on that premise," he said.

Nath said there are many contradictions within India. "Just because Indian industry has matured to the extent of aggressively pursuing acquisitions abroad, and we are witnessing an outward flow of FDI, does not mean that we have reached first world status."

Sixty per cent of India''s people are dependent upon agriculture for their livelihoods. "In spite of this, the Indian farmer is willing to compete with the American farmer. But can he compete with the US treasury? Can we allow what has happened to West Africa, to happen to our farmers?" the minister questioned.

He cited the example of the unfair cotton trade with African countries.

"Whole populations of five nations in West Africa have been reduced to abject poverty through unfair trade. And we are still negotiating about it," he said.

Nath said: "Tariffs are legitimate economic instruments. Subsidies, on the other hand, are not. How fair is it to ''trade off'' legitimate instruments against illegitimate ones?"

"Even the window of special products and the special safeguard mechanism that was devised in the July framework as a means of safeguarding livelihood security and rural development needs is being sought to be tied up in knots so as to render it ineffective."

Developed countries have so far refused to relent on the issue of industrial tariffs and high subsidies - the most contentious issue at WTO talks since the Doha Development Round was launched in 2001.

A meeting of four key WTO players - India, the US, Brazil and the European Union - held in New Delhi in mid-April also failed to reach an agreement.

The representatives are expected to meet again on May 17-18 in Paris.

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Developed countries blocking a WTO deal, says Kamal Nath