India to ask for revision of Nama draft in Geneva

Original Publication Date: 
28 August, 2007

New Delhi, Aug 29 India would demand revision of the draft on non agricultural market access for the WTO Doha round negotiations to move forward when it resume on September 3 in Geneva.

"Any forward movement in farm talks seems difficult till the controversy over the draft on non-agriculture market access (Nama) is resolved," said commerce secretary Gopal K Pillai. Member countries and groups are likely to put up an extreme position in farm negotiation with no viable solution in sight, he said.

He said 112 countries, including India, have out rightly rejected the draft circulated by the Nama chair Don Stephenson in July. Instead of discussing direct tariff cuts, the Stephenson draft has switched over to Swiss formula of coefficients, which suggests the developing countries to go in for deeper tariff cuts.

"I think some revisions in the Nama draft may be made so that the negotiators can proceed with discussions on agriculture", he said.

He, however, assured that India would not sacrifice its interests in agriculture for a better deal in services or Nama. In the services sector, India is interested in liberal movement of contractual service providers under Mode 4 of GATS.

Accepting that the farm draft as balanced and good enough to restart negotiations, Pillai said, "It all depends upon how far the US would be willing to offer for cuts in its farm subsidies also particularly in cotton subsidies." Top officials in the US administrations are resigning and the presidential polls are due in 2008. The situation is critical for the US to make commitments on farm subsidy cuts.

In farm negotiations host of issues remains to be resolved, including the indicators for Special Products. The former Indian Ambassador to GATT negotiations, BL Das has suggested that India also ask for capping Green Box subsidies and fixing quantitative levels for triggering special safeguard mechanism against import surges.