WTO talks may resume by Jan; deal possible: Pillai

Original Publication Date: 
30 November, 2006

Amid indications that WTO talks could resume by January next year, India has said there was a possibility of reaching a global trade deal by March 2007.

"The deal on Doha could have been reached by July but now there is a stalemate... There is a possibility of the deal by March (next year)," Commerce Secretary GK Pillai said in New Delhi.

"There are indications that a mini-ministerial could be held by the end of January for reviving the WTO process but the sixty day wait is too long. We need to push the talks fast as time is running out," he said, adding India was prepared to play an active role in negotiations.

The Doha Round of WTO talks have been suspended since July as developed and developing countries failed to reach a pact over cutting farm subsidies and greater market access.

"Once talks restart you would not find India on the backfoot. We are willing to give to ensure that the country gets a good deal in negotiations," he said, adding that informal consultations have started but there was no urgency.

Pillai, India's chief negotiator at the WTO, said the special authority of the US administration to strike a deal at the WTO was coming up for review at the US Congress next year and before that a package should be on the table.

He said if the US had agreed to cut trade-distorting subsidies in farm products, its economy would have gained 36 billion dollars and it would still have other subsidies to support its farm sector. The US should cede ground on agriculture to get benefits in industrial goods and services.

"The only area India gains is agriculture while it will have to give in other sectors," Pillai said.