India not to concede ground on agriculture at WTO meet

India will not agree to any change in the approach to the 'Doha Round' of trade negotiations, as it prepares to host a 'mini-summit' in advance of the next round of international trade talks. Jagdeep Worah reports

As India prepares to host a 'mini-summit' in advance of the next round of international trade talks, an informal meeting of cabinet scheduled for 2 September is likely to conclude that the country will pretty much stick to its previous position, seeking concessions rather than giving any.

It is reported that India will not agree to any change in the approach to the 'Doha Round' of trade negotiations. India will also not agree on any compromise over the food and livelihood security of the poor in developing countries.

The meet in Delhi will involve negotiators of 37 countries trying to reach a consensus on world trade norms ahead of the official World Trade Organisation meeting in Pittsburg, USA.

The aim, according to Indian officials, is to "re-energise" the Doha talks, now in their eighth year, and set a timetable for completion, rather than engaging in substantive negotiations.

''The principal aim of India's negotiating strategy has consistently been to protect the interests of its farmers and industry,'' the commerce ministry has said. "As the objective is to resume and intensify the Doha Round negotiations, technical discussions are not envisaged. The discussion will mainly focus on the best way to spark the multilateral negotiations to move the round to a quick closure."

Global talks in Delhi
The ministerial meeting will begin by mid-day on 3 September, with opening statements from WTO director general Pascal Lamy and the chairpersons of the negotiating groups on agriculture and services. This will be followed by ministerial discussions, including statements by coordinators of various groups and key member-countries.