India's trade negotiations to be centered on WTO talks outcome

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New Delhi, Feb.25 (ANI): The Economic Survey for 2009-10 presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament on Thursday has revealed that the Doha round of trade negotiations at the WTO will remain at the center of India's trade negotiations, as it did during 2007 and 2008 to ensure further progress on complex subjects.

However, the negotiations were slow to resume following the December 2008 break at the WTO. Based on discussions during the Mini-Ministerial meeting held in July 2008, the chairs of the negotiating groups on agriculture and Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) brought out fresh drafts of modalities for agriculture and NAMA. However, discussions on these texts began only in September 2009.

Going by the political commitments expressed by WTO members, India took the initiative and hosted a Ministerial Conference in New Delhi from September 3-4, 2009. There was unanimous affirmation of the need to expeditiously conclude the Doha round, particularly in the present economic situation, and for development remaining at the heart of the Doha round.

The seventh WTO ministerial meeting was held from November 30-December 3, 2009 at Geneva and provided a platform for different groups and caucuses to assess the direction of the negotiations. India and her coalition partners reiterated their commitment to upholding the development dimension, the centrality of the multilateral process and the need to safeguard livelihood concerns, particularly of the poor, subsistence farmers in their countries.

Given the long and protracted nature of these negotiations and recognising the fact that regional cooperation would continue to feature for a long time in world trade, India has been active in regional and bilateral trading arrangements in recent years.

Some of these are Indian-ASEAN comprehensive economic cooperation agreement, India-South Korea comprehensive economic partnership agreement, India-Japan agreements in goods, services and investment, India-EU trade and investment agreement and India-European free trade association.(ANI)

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