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No contradiction between FTA and multilateralism: kamal Nath

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 22 (UNI) Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath today said there was no ''real contradiction'' between Free Trade Agreements/Regional Trading Arrangements and the multilateral trading system of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as RTAs and FTAs were merely building blocs in the wider architecture of multilateralism.

Addressing a meeting organised by International Market Assessment (IMA) here, Mr Kamal Nath said the number of RTAs had quadrupled since 1990 -- from 50 to nearly 230 -- while another 60 agreements were under negotiation.

''On an average, each country belongs to 6 RTAs; and about 40 per cent of the world trade is under preferential tariff,'' he said.

Referring to the WTO negotiations, the minister said India was determined to make 'development' the objective of trade negotiations. ''Our exports as a percentage of GDP have steadily risen from less than 6 per cent when we joined the WTO, to 12 per cent last year. Added to this is the fact that exports currently provide employment to over 11 million people in India and, at the rate we are growing, has the potential to add more than a million jobs a year.'' He said such a scenario put into clear context the relevance of trade to the Indian economy.

''The Uruguay Round in which developing countries got the wrong end of the stick is over, and an old chapter. The entire dynamics of the WTO have changed with the on-going Doha Development Round. No one will take anything lying down now,'' he asserted.


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