Kamal Nath meets Lamy over WTO crisis | business | Hindustan Times
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Kamal Nath meets Lamy over WTO crisis

business Updated: Oct 16, 2007 21:05 IST
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Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said he was hoping to avoid a collapse of world trade talks in Geneva but warned that globalisation did not necessarily depend on the World Trade Organisation.

Nath, who flies out to Geneva on Tuesday evening, met WTO chief Pascal Lamy in London Monday night for discussions on the talks, which have been stalled over differences between majority of the WTO member-states on the one side and a small number of developed countries on the other over the issue of tariffs for industrial goods.

The talks are being held under the so-called Doha Development Round of the WTO and are aimed at rectifying existing imbalances in world trading rules that are seen to heavily favour wealthy nations.

India, along with a large group of developing countries, last week rejected the Geneva negotiating text for industrial goods, arguing developed countries were asking developing countries to make much larger tariff reductions than they themselves were prepared to do.

In a speech delivered at the launch of an India Observatory - a dedicated research unit - at the London School of Economics just before his scheduled meeting with Lamy Monday, an exasperated Nath warned that globalisation did not necessarily depend on the WTO.

"When I negotiate at the WTO, I am appalled at the protectionism in the US. At the heart of globalisation lies global competitiveness.

"Global competitiveness is driving globalisation. Globalisation is not moving because of the WTO and will not move only if we have a successful Doha Round. Globalisation has its own momentum."

As he left to meet Lamy after his speech, he told reporters that he was hoping the Geneva talks would not break down, but said that it was up to the US and the European Union to talk among themselves and rescue the negotiations.

He also said he hoped to meet American negotiators and get an update on the US Trade Promotion Authority, a piece of legislation that gives US officials their negotiating mandate but which expired in June this year. Its renewal, however, is caught up in US domestic politics with Democrats appearing reluctant to vote for a Republican trade mandate ahead of general elections next year.