Trade ministers of key WTO countries are to meet informally in Paris on the sidelines of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meeting. The meeting will be held in the last week of May to review the stalled Doha round of negotiations.
''A middle ground has to be found. We are clear that this is a developmental round. Over nine years, a lot has been invested...time and resources invested should not be lost and gains must be protected. The ministers will meet again informally in OECD, Paris, next month where all principle interlocutors will be present,'' commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma told reporters in New Delhi.
According to the minister, India was in favour of the continuation of negotiations and their successful conclusion at the earliest.
Pascal Lamy, WTO director general, lamenting the sluggish progress of the Doha negotiations has said, ''I believe we are confronted with a clear political gap which, as things stand, under the NAMA (industrial goods) framework currently on the table and from what I have heard in my consultations, is not bridgeable today.''
At the G-20 finance ministers meeting earlier, Lamy had said, ''Nearly a decade worth of work to reach a world trade deal is on the verge of failure...The WTO system is in grave risk of not being able to conclude a round started almost 10 years ago''.
According to Sharma, Lamy and heads of the three negotiating groups on agriculture, industrial goods and services would also be present. As a matter of fact, new drafts had been prepared after negotiations in Geneva at the official level and these would be reviewed by India to ascertain whether they met the consistent stand taken by the developing countries for removal of the historic distortions in global trade.
The progress of the talks would be reviewed by the minister next week from the perspective of the developing countries. He is of the firm view that any global trade agreement must have a development dimension for the developing countries and should not be diluted.
A consensus is needed on several issues in WTO negotiations including special dispensation for developing nations on freeing the market for agricultural and industrial products.