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April 30 WTO deadline not at farmers' cost: India

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 5 (UNI) India today informed the World Trade Organisation that the April 30 timeline for achieving full modalities for conclusion of the Doha Round cannot be adhered to, unless interest of its 650 million subsistence farmers is fully protected and the industrial sector gets a fair deal for growing in the globalised world.

Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath conveyed this message to visiting Director General of the World Trade Organisation Pascal Lamy at his two-hour meeting here. Mr Lamy indicated, however, that a deal was possible if India agreed to reduce the gap between the applied and bound rate of tariff and the European and the US removed the tariff peaks and escalations.

Mr Lamy, who is here on a two-day visit, would be meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

Besides, he attended a stakeholders' meeting organised by the UNCTAD India office . He would also be participating in a meeting being organised by the India Council for Research in International Economic Relations (ICRIER).

''If India and other developing countries get more than what they pay for, a deal is possible,'' Mr Lamy said. The WTO chief has not really given up his hopes on the April 30 deadline which was decided at the last WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong.

He said a lot would depend on some of the tough negotiations beginning next week in Geneva. The General Council meeting, scheduled for April 18, would finally review the ground reality and ascertain whether the Doha negogiations can meet the challenge of April 30.

However, Mr Lamy did not see any possibility of scaling down the ambitions of the ongoing Round. '' Cheap Round is not available'', the WTO chief said. This is because three-fourth of the developing countries, would not agree to a watered down deal.

Mr Kamal Nath requested Mr Lamy to convey India's concerns on the agriculture and industry to the developed countries. India is seeking a substantial reduction in both domestic and export subsidy being doled out by the rich nations to their farmers. It is also seeking an adequate protection for its infant and small scale industries. ''The developed nations gave a long protection to their industries; we need to develop our industries as well,'' Mr Kamal Nath said.

UNI PC SS BD1523

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