WTO releases revised proposals to unblock global trade talks

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New Delhi, May 20 (UNI) The World Trade Organisation today released a revised set of proposals to unblock global trade talks on agriculture and industrial goods.

India has yet to respond to the revised proposals but it is understood that the country does not get the flexibility to categorise special products it had sought to protect livelihood of its millions of poor farmers in the ongoing Doha round of trade talks.

The revised text on agriculture proposes less number of products which India and other developing countries can protect from unrestricted imports from the agro-exporting developed countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia, sources said.

Similarly, India's stand for greater flexibility in protecting its industries does not find much policy space in the revised proposals for duty cuts on manufactured goods, sources added.

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said the negotiating documents on trade in agriculture and industrial goods provide a platform for intensified work in the coming weeks. "We are getting closer to our end game," he added.

The negotiating texts in Agriculture and Non-agricultural market access(NAMA), released respectively by Crawford Falconer, chair of the agriculture negotiating group and Don Stephenson, chair of the NAMA negotiating group, are revisions of drafts previously circulated in July 2007 and February 2008. They are the result of WTO member governments' latest positions in the discussions since September 2007, one of the most intensive periods of negotiations since the Doha round talks began in 2001.

Lamy said the drafts are still not the final word. These are not the chairs' opinions but what might be accepted by all sides in the negotiations, he added.

The Doha negotiations, launched in 2001, for a market opening multilateral trade agreement have remained inconclusive amid differences between developed and developing countries. But Lamy wants talks to be concluded before the year-end.

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