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WTO Deputy DG lauds India for efforts to get Doha Round going

24
Aug '09
Mr Harsha Vardhana Singh. WTO Deputy Director General
The WTO Deputy Director General, Dr. Harsha Vardhana Singh, lauded India's efforts to impress upon the world the dire need for a successful outcome of the stalled Doha Round negotiations, stating that the convening of the mini-ministerial meeting in New Delhi from September 3-4, was a positive signal to get Doha moving once again.

The two-day mini-ministerial WTO meeting will bring together trade ministers from nearly 40 developed and developing countries to iron out differences in perceptions and lay the groundwork for a balanced and successful outcome of the Doha Round.

Addressing representatives of trade and industry at a function organized by FICCI and CUTS International, Dr. Singh said: “World leaders at various forums have emphasised a successful result for Doha negotiations because they see the positive contribution that improved international trade and multilateral trade regime will make to economic recovery and stable conditions in the world.”

In this context, he said, since significant progress has already been made in Doha to place it in the last mile, “if multilateral cooperation cannot obtain mutually acceptable solutions in the negotiations, getting success in other more cumbersome issues will be even more difficult because issues such as climate change or the financial and economic crisis are more complex and involve much greater collaborative understanding and assistance.”

Dr Singh said the Doha negotiations show that there is no single cohesive group comprising developing countries, whether it is the area of agriculture, industry or services. “There are different concerns and interests, and countries more and more now align themselves in terms of these substantive concerns rather than merely political groupings as such. I see this as generating a more focused position which is more responsive to each nation's key interests,” he said.

The lessons from the Doha negotiations, Dr Singh said, are that no single country can today impose its will on others, “nor should we expect cohesive groupings along the lines of developed and developing countries. This also implies a need for various countries to work together.”

Dr. Singh said one way of helping nations to seek solutions for major concerns whose ambit goes beyond narrow policy initiatives is to have evidence of some successful similar cooperative effort. The Doha negotiations have been going on for a long time and have progressed substantively to a major extent, he said, adding that “these negotiations have shown that even when there may be important differences of opinion at any point of time, nations can get together again and solve the problem which earlier seemed impenetrable.” A example of this is the fact that the issue of volume targets for certain type of special safeguard mechanism that led to a breakdown of the Ministerial meeting in July 2008, made immense progress just a couple of months later when the chief negotiators met again.

He said India's concerns about subsistence farmers will be addressed through a set of flexibilities which will be an integral part of the final deal, reflecting various types of equity concerns. Specifically, these are the flexibilities provided to developing countries through special products and special safeguard mechanism for agricultural products. “We are in the last phase of these negotiating issues, having travelled a long road which has accommodated India's concerns in a major way.”

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry


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