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Doha Round can't be allowed to collapse, says Anand Sharma
Sep '11
The Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles Shri Anand Sharma has stressed that the Doha round has to be taken forward as a single undertaking. Emphasizing the need to stay focussed on the developmental dimension of the round, Shri Sharma said that the terms of the discourse can't be changed. Developing countries are being called upon to pay an unconscionably high price to conclude the Round. “This certainly was not our expectation and our commitment when we agreed to participate in the Round” the Minister said at the inaugural function of Regional Trade Policy Course 2011, at the Centre for WTO Studies, Indian Institute of Foreign trade, here. The minister was emphatic “we must not allow this round to collapse.”

Minister said that it is important that people's faith in the Multilateral Institutions is sustained. “Many skeptics today feel that the WTO is at cross-roads and that the lack of progress in the Doha Round raises questions on the relevance and efficacy of this institution. We do not share this pessimism.” He made it clear that while crisis may lead to inward looking and promote protectionism, it will be counterproductive and will delay the recovery and deepen recession. WTO has a crucial role to play in this regard. The Minister pointed out that a timely conclusion of the Doha Round would not only have strengthened the WTO as a bulwark against protectionism, and given a boost to the global economy, but would also have signaled the WTO's firm commitment to development.

Shri Sharma said that India has an abiding commitment to building capacities for the people in the developing world and we have been doing so for decades in Africa, Asia and Latin America through a whole list of scholarship programmes. “The Regional Trade Policy Course is a flagship Capacity Building Programme of the WTO and this is the first time that this course for the Asia Pacific region is being organized in South Asia, which makes it truly special”, he added

The WTO Director General Mr Pascal Lamy while admitting the 'deadlock' in the Doha negotiations, said that with leadership, pragmatism and determination we should continue to address the various issues. “We can't give up because of steep slope or long path” he said. He further said that WTO is a member driven organization and its negotiations are a collective enterprise. Stakeholders of global trading systems recognize its worth and contribution in times like these. “India is a good example of how trade can be leveraged to achieve growth and reduce poverty”, he added.

In his address to the participants, the Commerce Secretary Dr Rahul Khullar said that global economy has undergone a radical transformation...developing countries today are not silent partners they are equal partners in the negotiations, you are going to see developing countries dominating the talks. That is why it is important to have a global trading system that is rule based.

Regional Trade Policy Courses (RTPCs) are three-month courses for government officials from developing countries/separate customs territories, LDCs, economies in transition, and countries in the process of accession to the WTO. They are organized and run by the WTO in partnership with institutions of higher learning in different regions of the world. The RTPC in 2011 for Asia – Pacific Region is being organized jointly by the WTO and the Centre for WTO Studies, IIFT New Delhi, during 5 September – 25 November 2011. 25 participants from 19 countries of Asia – Pacific region will participate in the forthcoming RTPC. Twenty academics/trade specialists from the region, together with WTO officials will deliver the course.

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