India has made it clear that it will not bend any further on agriculture and asked the developed countries to adopt a more flexible approach on industrial tariffs at the WTO mini-ministerial beginning on Thursday.
Despite the working out of modalities for negotiations in agriculture and industrial tariffs by key players at the WTO, including the US, the EU, India and Brazil, the talks failed to show any forward movement.
With sharp differences between developed and developing countries still persisting, India fears that a consensus might elude the mini-ministerial on the contentious issue of agriculture and industrial tariffs.
India said it would follow the stand taken by the G-20 developing countries, which includes Brazil, China, South Africa and Egypt. It has asked the developed countries to adopt a more realistic approach on issue of market access in agriculture.
As regards industrial tariffs, India said the developed countries should show more flexibility, particularly with regard to tariff cuts. It should be on the principle of less than full reciprocity for developing countries, it said.
Industry associations in India, meanwhile, said the draft text of the WTO mini-ministerial has fallen short of India's expectations and, therefore, must be rejected. The draft, Assocham said, seeks to impose upon developing countries the responsibility of reducing industrial tariff at steeper rates.
"India should not be happy about the draft text on NAMA (non-agriculture market access) because it seems to prefer a simple Swiss formula for tariff reduction in industrial goods," said Anil K Agarwal, president, Assocham. "This would mean that the developing countries will be obliged to go in for steeper tariff cuts than the developed countries."
If no consensus is reached at the mini-ministerial, it is expected that there would be yet another mini-ministerial two weeks later to keep up the July-end deadline.