G-4 has no further role to play in WTO negotiations: Kamal Nath

23 Jun 2007


Mumbai: The G-4 has no role to play in breaking the impasse in multilateral trade talks, commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath said.

The G-4, a grouping of four key WTO members comprising the EU, US, India and Brazil, was set up as a platform for speeding up the process of consensus building among the developed and developing countries on the contents of the Doha round.

"It''s the end of the day for G-4... Now it''s for the full membership (of the WTO) to take the Doha round forward," Kamal Nath said.

Nath, who returned from Potsdam in Germany declaring failure at the G-4 talks, said that developed countries wanted greater access to the markets in the developing world but refused to cut their trade distorting subsidies in agriculture.

Brazil and India, representing the developing world, walked out on talks with the US and the EU during WTO negotiations that aimed for multilateral agreement on farm subsidies and open markets.

In Washington , US President George W Bush accused Brazil and India of fighting for their own interests at the expense of poorer countries.

The United States and European Union were also guilty for "difficulty improving their offer of access to the market and internal support," he said.

Both Brazil and India said the US and EU were demanding too high a price for cutting their trade-distorting farm policies.

"The exchange rate being asked was too high," Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim told reporters, referring to US and EU demands that developing countries make "a 58-per cent cut" in their bound manufacturing tariffs in exchange for rich countries cutting their farm subsidies and tariffs.

Kamal Nath said the US offered to cap its overall spending on trade-distorting farm subsidies at $17 billion, down from an earlier US offer of $22.5 billion made nearly two years ago.

But since Washington currently spends only $10.8 billion on trade distorting farm subsidies, the proposal was not enough, Nath said. "There is no equity in this, no logic and no fairness," he said.

Brazil and India , as leaders of the G20 developing country group, have pushed for about a $12 billion cap on US spending and about $20 billion for the EU, which has a higher allowance than the US under WTO rules.

During this week''s meeting at Potsdam , the US and EU never came near the G20''s demand and instead offered figures "that didn''t represent any real cuts in domestic support," Brazilian minister Amorim said.

Amorim evoked memories of the WTO''s acrimonious September 2003 meeting in Cancun, Mexico, which collapsed after developing countries objected to an earlier US-EU proposal for reforming agricultural trade.

WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, meanwhile, said the global trade negotiations aimed at a deal on Doha Round would continue despite failure of talks between the four key nations.

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