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US review of GSP not linked to WTO impasse;says Kamal Nath

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Aug 8 (UNI) Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath today said the review of the GSP (Generalised System of Preference) by the US on products of interest to India was not connected with the impasse in the WTO negotiations where New Delhi and Washington have taken opposite stands.

'' I am told the GSP review is a regular exercise and is product based and not country-specific. In any case, it is not connected with the current impasse at the WTO'', Mr Kamal Nath said at a FICCI seminar on the Doha Round of Negotiations.

US Trade Representative Susan Schewab had stated yesterday in Washington that the US might review the GSP system of preferential treatement for certain countries like India and Brazil. If the US withdraws the GSP on certain products like textile and pharmaceuticals, the Indian exports of these critical products could be impacted adversely.

Analysts feel that it is the US way of warning India and Brazil which have emerged the champions of the developing countries at the WTO negotiations.

Earlier, in his address Mr Kamal Nath said India would plead with the rich nations to come back to the negotiating table in Geneva to restart the suspended Doha Round of trade talks.

'' I plead with them that we must move forward and they should show us the leadership. However leadership does not lie only in seeking market access'', he said.

India is only asking for a fair rule-based multilateral system where the subsistence farmers from the developing countries are not made to compete against heavily subsidised agriculturalists from the rich countries. In so far as the complaint of the EU and the US over the market access is concerned, the Commerce and Industry Minister said India has unilaterally liberalised its economy so much that there are hardly any tariff barriers left. ''The applied duty rate on imports from the US is six per cent whereas it is 5.7 per cent on imports from the US. Where is market access disabler?'', Mr Kamal Nath said. He said the India has liberalised its economy in a caliberated and not followed the prescriptions of the World Bank and IMF which have failed elsewhere in the world.

On the often-repeated complaints on high duty on automobiles, Mr Kamal Nath it is the American and the European car-makers who want protection in India since they have invested heavily in the country.

He said in the WTO negotiations which are stuck on agricultural subsidies, the G-20 proposal on tariff reduction is acceptable to India even though " I am not happy with it''. It is in the overall interest of the G-20 alliance that India has to move along.

Mr Kamal Nath said while India would be pursuing with the bilateral and regional trading agreements, it would be prefer a rule-based multilateral system under WTO. However, over 200 regional trading agreements do not come in the way of multilateral trading regime.

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