India, US plan crucial farm trade talks next week
23 May 2008
Indian trade negotiators will meet their counterparts from the United States next week in Geneva in an attempt to speed up the Doha Round of world trade talks on liberalisation of agriculture trade.
The Indian officials are also expected to have crucial negotiations on non-agricultural market access (Nama).
Nama chairman Don Stephenson has invited WTO members for a meeting on the revised text on the issue since developing countries like India have expressed their displeasure at the proposals.
"Indian negotiators will have bilateral meetings on May 26 with their US counterparts on agriculture-related issues. Similar bilateral meetings with European Commission officials are also expected in the near future," said an official.
The draft agricultural proposals on agriculture are closer to the interests of developing countries as nearly 100 of the 130 outstanding issues in the previous draft have been resolved.
But the fact remains that the trade distorting farm subsidy in the United States more than doubled a decade after it committed to bring them down by 20 per cent in the Uruguay Round agreement of the World Trade Organisation in 1995. Overall trade distorting subsidies increased from about $10 billion in 1995 to $22.6 billion in 2005 and then fell slightly to $17.4 billion the following year.
"Many square brackets (unresolved issues) on agriculture can be further reduced through talks between senior officials of the respective countries. After that, trade ministers can iron out the remaining ones in a ministerial meeting," the official said.
Many countries, including India, have rejected the revised proposals on non-agriculture market access. Unresolved issues (those in square brackets) in Nama, in fact, increased to 97 in the latest draft, from 15 in the February text.
The new Nama draft follows a three-tier approach on market access to industrial goods in developing countries. The draft gives more flexibility (measures to protect certain industrial goods) to countries granting greater market access.