New Delhi, Aug 12 (UNI) World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General Pascal Lamy today exuded confidence that the negotiating parties would be able to bring about an agreement of the stalled Doha round, even as India put the blame on the industrialised nations for the failure of the Geveva talks.
India's position was articulated by Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath in the presence of Mr Lamy and several leading CEOs of Indian companies at a meeting organsied by the Confederation of Indian Industry(CII).
Mr Nath squarely blamed the stubborn stand taken by the United States even though India had displayed magnificent generocity in moving on to the agenda outlined at Geneva.
The talks failed at agenda item number 18, relating to safeguard mechanism, and the next two items number 19 and 20 could not be taken up.. Item 19 pertained to textiles and the next items related to Intellectual Property Rights, Geographic Indicators and Bio-diversity issues.
Mr Lamy, who was described both by Mr Nath and the captains of industry as a 'friend of India, said he was willing to play the role expected of him in bringing the talks to a successful conclusion, provided the negotiating parties were able to work in a spirit of accomodation and "give and take." "I am not pregnant, I will play the role of a midwife, if negotiating parties want delivery of the baby." Mr Lamy remarked.
Mr Lamy said India adopted at the talks a "strait jacket' approach on safeguard mechanisms, while the United States had its own position on the subject.
India wanted that the trigger on applying safeguard mechanisms should be permitted at 10 per cent surge in imports of agricultural products, while the US held on to the rigid position that it should be done when the increase in volume was at 40 per cent in imports.
India argued that this would pose a threat to the livelihood of millions of its poor farmers, which the country can ill afford.
Mr Nath said India adopted a flexible approach on many subjects, including sectoral issues of interest to industry, but would not give in to this critical issue.
He said India on many of the issues was not arguing for its own stand, but was speaking on behalf of the less developed and emerging economies. For instance, on the issue of bananas it stood behind the interest of more than 30 developing countries.
Mr Lamy said from New Delhi he would be going to Washington where he would explain the viewpoint of India to the US government.
In the Question-Answer session which followed, Mr Rahul Bajaj, a Rajya Sabha MP and an eminent industrialists, said the Indian industry puts its weight behind its Trade Minister. Its concerns were not narrow, but broader entailing agriculture and services and those of the Least Developed Countries.
Mr Bajaj said industry would not have fogiven Mr Nath if he had come with a bad deal, rathen than come back without the deal being through. He accused the industrialised countries of obstinacy and bullying tactics and charged that they weaked the position of India's representative.
Mr Bajaj's tone was different and defiant from the one unusually adopted by industry leaders at such meetings. He not only chose to be outspoken on national interests and not sectional in his approach, even if meant annoying the global powers that be.
UNI GS SBA NS1728