Doha talks enter crucial phase

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New Delhi, Apr.21 : World Trade Organisation (WTO) Deputy Director General Mr. Harsha V Singh today said that the Doha negotiations are at a crucial phase.

Addressing a roundtable on WTO Negotiations: Current State Of Play," here, Singhsaid recent days have seen increased political will among member nations to conclude the Doha talks successfully. He said a fresh draft negotiating Text on Agriculture and NAMA is expected in end April, which will set the tone for a successful conclusion of the Round.

Talking of a possible Ministerial in May once the horizontal negotiations to reduce the number of differences between Agriculture and NAMA begin, Singh said NAMA (Non - Agricultural Market Access) is a greater area of concern than agriculture because of the widening gap between offensive and defensive interests of the members. He however added that talks are underway on 'addressing the main concerns, while preserving the ambitions' of the Doha Round. On agriculture talks, the key issues identified by Singh were sensitive products, special products, tropical products and preference erosion.

Supporting an early conclusion to the Doha Round, Jayant Dasgupta, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said the development dimension needs to be reflected in the final outcome of the negotiations. He highlighted three important aspects of the current WTO negotiations, 'the content, concerns and the process'. He expressed India's reservations on the current NAMA Text and said that the Agriculture Text has not yet addressed livelihood concerns on agriculture.

Dasgupta deliberated on India's position in the current Doha negotiations and said that the recent proposal by NAMA Chair Ambassador Don Stephenson on sliding scale (trade off between NAMA coefficients and flexibilities) goes against the July Framework 2004.

He expressed India's opposition to any such move. On Agriculture Mr. Dasgupta said the landing zone was near, but because of the 'mercantilist interests' of major agricultural exporters, consensus could not be reached. Overall, he said India looks forward to successful conclusion of the Doha Round in a time bound manner. On services, he called for 'more clarity of the offers from the trading partners'. He asserted that in Services India clearly enjoy comparative advantage in the areas like Construction, Architecture, healthcare etc. services, and that specifically in the Mode-1 (Cross border trade in services) and Mode-4 (Cross-border movement of professionals). India needs market access and hence 'upfront offers' from India's trading partners are looked forward to.

Earlier, V K Mathur, Chairman and Managing Director, Inapex Private Limited reflected the CII position and said that Indian Industry looks forward to an early but development led conclusion to the Round.

ANI

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