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India urged to expedite LDC package

Mar '07
India needs to move fast on the package for duty-free quota-free (DQFQ) access to the least developed countries (LDCs) as it is an important element of the Doha mandate and the Hong Kong Declaration, Mr. Dipak Patel, former Minister of Trade and Industry of Zambia, who chaired the session on “Special Measures for Less Developed Countries” at the International Seminar on Saving Doha and Delivering on Development, hosted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, and Mr. Pradeep Mehta, secretary general of CUTS International, one of the co-sponsors of the Seminar, said while briefing newspersons here.

“The intent needs to be translated into action, and delays will only skew the southern solidarity in the WTO process”, Mr. Mehta said.

Mr. Patel said that the process of negotiations must be more inclusive both in terms of process and the content as far as the LDCs were concerned and lamented lack of progress on duty-free, quota-free access as well as the Aid for Trade issues.

They said DQFQ concessions were sought from “advanced developing countries” at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in December 2005 when these issues were debated. The rich countries agreed to extend this concession on 97 % of tariff lines, though that left a gap where products sensitive to rich economies such as textiles could be exempted. This had come in for considerable criticism, and one of the spin-offs was that big developing countries like India, China and Brazil too should extend such preferential offers, they said.

Brazil has already notified its DFQF scheme, while India and China have announced the intention but are yet to notify it. Moreover, India is also a signatory to GSTP (Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries which was agreed at UNCTAD X1 Conference at Sao Paolo in 2004.

Press Information Bureau

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