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Kamal takes tough stand on farm subsidies in Geneva

Written by: Staff
|

Hannover, Apr 25 (UNI) Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath has made it clear to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that subsistence agriculture is not for negotiation, nor would any moves that could lead to deindustrialisation in developing countries be acceptable.

This formed part of the Doha mandate reiterated in the July framework and must be respected by all, he told the Director General of WTO Pascal Lamy, while transiting through Geneva from Hannover.

He expressed disappointment that the principal objective of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations namely -- development dimension should be at the core of the global trade talks -- was being lost sight of and there could be no progress in the talks due to the intransigence of developed countries of crucial issues of concern to the developing world such as agricultural market access, domestic support etc.

''Commerce is for negotiations, not subsistence'', Mr Kamal Nath said while addressing a news conference in Geneva earlier today.

Reflecting a continued tough stance on key issues, Mr Nath called upon developed countries to realise that agricultural tariffs were a major instrument for protection of farmers, against subsidised imports and ''we cannot be expected to give up that protection'', he said.

The heavy farm subsidies given by developed countries must be effectively reduced below applied levels as these were trade-distorting and countries like India should not be expected to pay a price for developed countries doing something which they should not be doing in the first place.

He also spoke strongly against attempts to reinvent or redefine the Doha mandate.

In this context, he mentioned a US proposal received yesterday on Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) in agriculture which, he said, was very retrograde and was against the very spirit of the mandate agreed upon, as it would adversely impact on the interests of developing countries.

On the issue of industrial tariffs or Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA), Mr Nath made it absolutely clear that India had provided market access unilaterally since the Uruguay round.

In fact, overall reduction amounted to almost 55 per cent in the last five years whereas developed countries like the US and the European Union (EU) had made no reduction at all since the Uruguay Round.

He said they must reduce by 55 per cent to come to parity with India in NAMA before seeking market access in developing countries.

He further pointed out that developed countries had provided full protection to develop their own industries and could not now deny developing countries the same.

UNI PC MP VP2132

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