New Delhi for a rule-based multilateral trading system

Original Publication Date: 
8 August, 2006

NEW DELHI, AUG 8: India is in favour of salvaging the suspended Doha development round and was committed to a rule-based multilateral trading system. But, it made clear it would not compromise on the interests of its farmers and infant industries.

“We are in touch with WTO director-general Pascal Lamy and key trading countries,” commerce minister Kamal Nath said on Tuesday. He asked the developed countries to take lead in correcting distortions and improving market access for developing nations especially in agriculture.

The WTO talks in Geneva, last month, collapsed as there were “big gaps in mindsets” of developing and developed countries, he said at a seminar organised by Ficci and Icrier.

India was already giving market access to the EU and US, he said, adding the country’s average applied tariffs on imports from the EU stood at 6%, while that on the US was 5.7% in 2005-06. This did not include some products such as wines and spirits and automobiles, he added.

The US and other rich nations must make substantial cuts in farm subsidies, Nath said. He said even in services, the US offer was exactly the same as the one offered during the Uruguay round. “The Doha round can move only if trade distorting subsidies by rich countries go,” Nath said.

Recalling the divergences at the G-6 meeting in Geneva leading to the suspension of the trade talks, the minister said what was worrying was not the gap in numbers, but the gap in mindset. This, he said, was reflected in the fact developing countries were being asked to pay a price by way of agricultural and non-agricultural market access, in return for the developed world cutting their trade distorting domestic support.