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EU demand against Doha spirit: India

The EU statement urging India to be ready to open its markets further for industrial goods in return for a deal in agriculture at the World Trade Organization (WTO) has not been received well by India.

, TNN|
Feb 20, 2007, 05.49 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: The EU statement urging India to be ready to open its markets further for industrial goods in return for a deal in agriculture at the World Trade Organization (WTO) has not been received well by India. Top officials say that the EU’s demand would result in the reversal of the `less-than full reciprocity’ condition for developing countries enshrined in the mandate of the on-going Doha round of negotiations.

Reacting to director-general of trade for European Commission David O Sullivan’s recent remarks on the necessity for India to offer greater cuts in industrial goods tariffs, a senior commerce department official said that India would not offer greater cuts than developed countries.

“It is ridiculous that developed countries should expect developing countries to offer greater cuts. They forget that the Doha mandate calls for less than full reciprocity for developing countries,” the official said.

Commerce & industry minister Kamal Nath had stated earlier this month that India had informed developed countries that it would cut its tariffs by 10% less than what they were willing to do.

The official pointed out that it would be futile to blame India for the log-jam in talks as it was playing a leading role in getting talks back on track. After a gap of more than seven months, various negotiating groups have started to hold meetings at the WTO head-quarters in Geneva, but a break-through could be achieved only if countries stopped waiting for the other to move first.

The talks had broken last July over the US’ refusal to take on commitments for real cuts in farm subsidies. Although the US has started showing signs of some flexibility, the developed countries are trying to extract commitments from developing countries in the area of industrial tariffs in exchange.

India is of the view that while it was ready to offer increased market access in industrial goods, it was not going to make greater offers than developed countries. “A large number of developing countries are looking at us for leadership. We also have to think of protecting their interests,” the official said.

amiti.sen@timesgroup.com
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