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Lamy hopes to revive failed trade talks

business Updated: Aug 04, 2008 22:25 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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The World Trade Organisation (WTO) director general Pascal Lamy is visiting India next week in an attempt to revive the failed trade talks to set up a global system of commerce.

Commerce secretary GK Pillai told reporters that Lamy is likely to be in India on August 12 and 13. India has accused the United States for giving primacy to “commercial interests” over livelihood of billions of poor people that led to the breakdown of the latest round of trade negotiations.

The trade talks held in Geneva collapsed last week after India and other developing countries insisted that there should be enough scope to protect subsistence farmers and small industries from being submerged by a flood of cheap imports from the US and the EU.

Pillai said that India’s areas of concern remain on the special safeguard mechanism for farmers.

The instruments of ‘special products and special safeguard mechanism’ (SSM) were built into the Doha round of discussions held in 2001.

While the special products are designed to allow developing countries to impose higher duties on their vulnerable products, specially the products affecting the livelihoods of subsistence farmers and affecting the food security of a nation.

SSM is designed to protect the farmers from sudden import surges and price dips by applying an additional safeguard duty over and above the bound rate.

Eminent economist and economic adviser to the United Nations, Jeffrey D Sachs, said the breakdown of the talks should not be ascribed to a single country and “certainly not to India, or to China or to any emerging market economy”.

“Nobody was really prepared for a talk right now and I think negotiations and future aid issues will resume with the next US administration,” Sachs told Hindustan Times.

Sachs said there were chances for the negotiations to resume. “We may get a better cooperation not only on trade but on climate change, carbon reduction, water stress,” he said.

Commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath has made it clear “India is ready to be on the table without compromising on issues which concern poor farmers of not only India but 100 other developing countries.”

Pillai said that Lamy would hold discussions with government officials and captains of Indian industry during his forthcoming visit.

The domestic industry is of the opinion that many of the proposals moved in Geneva, if accepted, would adversely affect many labour-intensive units, largely dominated by small and medium-sized entities.

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