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India points to farm thorn in trade talks

business Updated: Sep 03, 2009 21:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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The government said on Thursday there was still some distance to go to breathe life into stalled global trade talks even as World Trade Organisation (WTO) director-general Pascal Lamy exuded confidence that the current ministerial confabulations would lead to an acceptable rule-based free trade regime.

Addressing a two-day mini-ministerial meeting of over 35 trade ministers in New Delhi, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma minced no words as he reiterated the issue of agricultural subsidy and support at the heart of the deadlock between developed and developing countries.

“In some quarters, it has been suggested that most issues have been settled and we are almost in ‘end game’. However, if we look at the texts of modalities on NAMA (non-agricultural market access) and agriculture alone, it would be apparent that there are still a few gaps and large number of unresolved issues. In some instances, the architecture of a solution is not yet fully in sight,” Sharma said.

India is hosting the meeting with a renewed effort to revive the talks called the Doha Round after the Qatari capital where it all started.

The talks had collapsed in July 2008. High US farm subsidies on the one hand, and India’s worries over protecting its own subsistence farmers from free-trade stresses precipitated a deadlock.

Some analysts have questioned the need for India to convene a mini meeting ahead of the planned full ministerial meeting in Geneva due in November.

“Let’s be frank in acknowledging that even the unequivocal expression of political resolve has not yet been translated into action,” Sharma said.

Sharma said the Doha Round "must correct the historical distortions and address structural flaws in the global trading regime, while responding to the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the poor in the developing world”.