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Revised WTO drafts require improvement : FICCI
11
Feb '08
Calling for a balanced outcome of the Doha talks, FICCI said that concerns and interests of India and other developing countries need to be adequately reflected in all the areas of WTO negotiations including services.

Commenting on the latest draft on non-agricultural market access (NAMA) issued yesterday, FICCI stated that the new text again failed to follow the Doha mandate of “less than full reciprocity” in tariff reduction. Like the draft of last July, the revised NAMA text retained the tariff reduction coefficient of 8-9 for developed members and 19-23 for developing countries.

“This set of coefficients, if applied in tariff reduction formula, would result in relatively greater tariff cut for India and other developing members, compared with developed economies like USA and EU”, FICCI Secretary General Dr Amit Mitra observed.

This would be in complete disregard to the Doha mandate which has categorically specified that the tariff reduction commitments would be comparatively lower for developing countries, added Dr Mitra.

Pointing out to another critical element in NAMA negotiations namely, flexibility for developing members, FICCI said that the revised draft has not indicated any numbers in this regard.

From the perspectives of developing countries, it is necessary that the eventual NAMA outcome contain adequate flexibilities to take care of the developmental needs and imperatives of India.

On the latest agriculture draft, the apex Chamber said that it could be a starting point for working out detailed modalities. Here the important issues are linkage between the reductions and disciplines related to domestic support, food security and market access.

While the revised text does provide disciplines for domestic support whose effectiveness needs to be studied in detail, but the draft has proposed the same range of cuts for US agricultural subsidies or Overall Trade Distorting Support (OTDS).

The proposed numbers would reduce the US OTDS to the level of $13-16.4 billion from the existing bound level of some $48 billion. FICCI said that in order to redress the historical distortions and imbalances in world agriculture trade, it is important that this level is brought down to the range of $11-12 billion.

On market access in agriculture, FICCI raised concerns on a number of issues like tariff escalation, tariff capping, impact of tariff cut formula, special safeguard mechanism (SSM) etc. “Here the fundamental guiding principle is that ambition in agriculture should determine the negotiations in NAMA and not the other way round.


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