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Good prospects for successful conclusions of Doha round:WTO official

By Staff
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Google Oneindia News

New Delhi, Aug 13 (UNI) India's main areas of concern have been largely addressed at the ongoing Doha Round as the trade negotiations enter the ''last phase with reasonably good prospects for a successful conclusion,'' said a top official of World Trade Organization (WTO) today.

Addressing the industry chamber FICCI meet on 'WTO and Doha Negotiations: Closing the Gaps and the Way Forward', WTO Deputy Director General Harsha Vardhana Singh said, ''Member nations are willing to go forward and there is a convergence of views''.

With the ground being set for dealing with the nitty-grities, the results of the negotiations that will resume in early September will be known by late September or early October, Dr Singh added.

Dr Singh said the draft proposals released in mid-July have two important political aspects--first, they offer large degree of results for the very poor developing countries and secondly, the Aid for Trade Initiative which focuses on transparency, building up supply side capacities, along with possibilities of enhanced aid, would be a blessing for the very poor nations.

On agriculture, he said, India's concerns had been largely met, and the draft on agriculture shows sensitivity on the aspects of flexibility.

On Non-Agriculture Market Access (NAMA), the WTO official said, the position was ''very comfortable'' for India and ''we are very near the landing zone, which is not very far from the negotiating paper.'' FICCI Manufacturing Committee Chairman and JK Paper Ltd Managing Director, Harsh Pati Singhania, however, noted that the NAMA draft in its present form was not acceptable to Indian trade and industry.

It does not reflect the concerns of developing countries and in several ways is not consistent with the Doha mandate, he added.

For instance, Mr. Singhania said, the NAMA-11 has always argued for a difference of at least 25 in the Swiss Formula coefficient between the developed and developing countries.

However, the NAMA Chair suggested a set of coefficients with a much narrower difference.

He said, ''If we take the Swiss coefficient of 20 for developing and eight for developed countries, then NAMA-11 developing countries would have to undertake nearly 60 per cent tariff cut on average, developed countries on the other hand would be required to reduce their tariff by 28 per cent.'' This would tantamount to developing countries ending up undertaking a relatively sharper tariff reduction compared to developed members.

Mr Singhania said an important area is the cursory treatment of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) in the draft. Clear direction and timelines are necessary because any meaningful negotiation on market access could not concentrate on tariffs alone.

''Removal of NTBs is very important from India's point of view, as the formidable NTBs continue to restrict market access for our exports,'' Mr Singhania pointed out.

He also expressed industry's concern at the attempts by Turkey to have a reverse sectoral for textiles and clothing to keep this outside the scope of full tariff reduction.

Such attempts, Mr Singhania said, ''should be rejected outright because this will imply a retrograde step for liberalisation in the textiles sector.'' UNI MP PBB ND1668

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