Lamy in city to revive stalled global trade talks

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New Delhi, Aug 11 (UNI) Unfazed by failed global trade talks in Geneva last month, World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy is expected to resume informal dialogue with government and industry interlocutors during his two-day visit to the city from tomorrow.

He is visiting India to participate in a two-day international conference on 'Global Partnership for Development' being jointly organised here by think-tank CUTS International and industry body FICCI.

He is expected to meet Commerce and Industry minister Kamal Nath who has described the Geneva collapse a mere "pause" and expressed India's readiness to resume talks, hoping that what was there on the table on July 29 after nine days of intensive talks remains. The minister is scheduled to speak at the conference, the organisers said.

The stand-off in the Geneva meeting was mainly between the US and India with the former pegging trigger for activating special safeguard mechanism (SPM) at 40 per cent rise in imports of sensitive farm products over the average of three previous years.

India said raising tariff after 40 per cent increase in imports would ruin farmers in developing countries by the time the latter could raise import duties to protect them. More than 100 developing and least developed countries besides China backed the stand taken by India.

Mr Lamy, who favours resumption of global trade talks before the United States goes in to election mode later this year, is expected to voice fresh ideas at the international conference here.

"This event has assumed greater significance because it is a first major global gathering being held immediately after the recent collapse of trade talks in Geneva," CUTS International secretary general Pradeep Mehta said.

More than 200 participants from India and abroad will discuss and debate why and how a better mechanism for a more balanced approach and process to global development can be found through enhanced partnership between the rich and the poor countries.

"It is vital to find out alternative means for forging a better partnership for development between the rich and poor nations on trade and regulatory issues given the recent collapse of WTO talks in Geneva and to buttress the importance of international trade for a country's growth back onto the radar screens of the international policy community", Mr Mehta added.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development secretary-general Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, and Commonwealth Secretariat's deputy secretary general. Ransford Smith are also to speak at the conference.

Several experts including T N Srinivasan from Yale University, Alan Winters from Sussex University, Chris Milner from Nottingham University, Claire Durkin from UK's Department for International Development, Dominique Njinkeu from International Lawyers and Economists against Poverty will present their work on issues such as how to increase and balance the participation of the poor countries in the international trading system, why a functional domestic regulatory system is important in order for the consumers to benefit more from economic liberalisation.


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