Trade secretary Rahul Khullar on Thursday warned of a growing trend among countries to resort to requirements of unreasonable environmental and health standards as a covert form of protectionism, to block trade already hit by global slowdown.
Khullar was speaking to reporters at function to mark the release of a study on the various aspects of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks.
Khullar said countries were trying to block trade on the basis of everything from proposed cap and trade schemes to the level of toxins found in Indian shrimps for which they were trying to set standards in the WTO without proper international debate.
Analysts said the statement from a key trade official of a country with a major role in the WTO negotiations, highlights Indian concerns that developed nations were increasingly erecting barriers to fair trade.
Khullar said that environmental issues were being brought into the international agenda and there were serious moves to push them through the backdoor into the WTO.
"I will abide by international standards on selling you safe products, but you can't keep raising your standards, almost at whim, to prevent me from accessing your market," Khullar said.