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India sees progress in Doha round trade talks

business Updated: Oct 22, 2007 17:55 IST

Reuters
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There has been some progress in prolonged global talks that seek to break down trade barriers, but India and other developing nations have not softened their stance to enable a deal, India's trade minister said on Monday.

The Doha round, launched six years ago in Qatar to boost trade in agriculture, industry and services, and help poorer countries export more, has been bogged down on countries' concerns over exposing their key markets to more competition.

"There has been movement forward in the last two months," Kamal Nath told Reuters on the sidelines of a trade meeting.

"Negotiations are going on in Geneva at the multilateral level. We will wait for the chairs to come up with the papers to see how much convergence is possible."

Nath said India was not softening its stance to enable a deal in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, despite a discussion paper that suggested leading emerging economies may accept some changes they had resisted.

"There is no such move. We have not adopted a softer stance," Nath said.

His comments followed WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy's remarks last week that a deal was doable but time to ink the agreement was running out.

A discussion paper circulated by India last week, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, suggested that emerging economies might accept bigger cuts to their manufacturing tariff caps in exchange for being allowed to shield certain products from competition.

The paper also called for developed countries to slash their maximum tariff rates more than was suggested in a negotiating text circulated in July by Canadian ambassador Don Stephenson, who chairs the WTO industry talks.

Developing nations such as India, Brazil and South Africa have been demanding sharper cuts in US and European Union agricultural subsidies.

The United States and European Union say advanced developing nations are reluctant in cutting manufacturing tariffs.