FICCI urges govt to stay firm at WTO ministerial

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New Delhi, Jul 25 (UNI) Supporting the government's stand at the World Trade Organisation's mini-ministerial in Geneva, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry today urged Commerce Minister Kamal Nath to stay firm on the country's stated position of protecting small and vulnerable farmers and sensitivities of domestic industry.

While FICCI said the ministerial today entered the fifth day without making any significant progress, WTO Chief Pascal Lamy claimed that ''some convergences have been recorded but progress remains painfully slow after four days of ministerial-level negotiation.'' Pointing out that ''wide differences still remain on the issues of special products (SPs) in agriculture,'' the country's apex chamber said it would be impossible to move forward on any other issue in the absence of any effective safeguard mechanism to protect Indian farmers from artificially cheap and subsidised imports from developed countries.

Observing that developed countries have shown ''little flexibility'' to accommodate India's concerns, FICCI said it will not be possible to have a development-friendly Doha agreement in the interest of domestic industry and large rural and agriculture-dependent population.

On NAMA (Non-Agriculture Market Access), the chamber said unless Indian industry gets adequate flexibilities, anti-concentration clause is dropped and sectorals remain strictly non-mandatory, the government should not accept the July 10 Nama text, FICCI General Secretary Amit Mitra said in a statement.

The apex chamber said since anti-concentration principle had already been negotiated and included in the 2004 Framework Agreement, there is no scope for reopening and diluting it.

However, this is again being discussed at the ministerial.

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