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Nath to attend WTO talks only after trust vote

business Updated: Jul 13, 2008 12:01 IST
Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath

Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, who is scheduled to leave for Geneva on July 19 for crucial WTO talks, is likely to delay his departure till July 22 when the UPA government seeks confidence vote in Parliament.

The World Trade Organisation is convening the Ministerial Meeting between July 21 and July 24 of key trade ministers who would get involved in hard negotiations for reaching a blueprint of an agreement on the much-delayed Doha Round.

Nath, a Lok Sabha MP from Chindwara in Madhya Pradesh, not only has a crucial vote in the lower house but is also an ace strategist for the Congress Party, which is reaching out to several small parties and independent MPs for support on the nuclear deal.

While the Commerce Minister has taken approval of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to remain outside the country between July 19 and July 24, he would be required to stay back home for the trust vote.

"In this scenario, the Minister will designate Commerce Secretary G K Pillai to participate in the negotiations on his behalf," an official said.

Although both Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh and Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar are members of the Rajya Sabha, they may not represent Nath because they are not hands-on with WTO affairs.

Nath was to lead India's strong delegation at the Geneva Ministerial Meeting comprising senior officials from ministries of Commerce, Agriculture and Finance.

India, spearheading several alliances like G-20 and G-33 in WTO, is seeking a fair multilateral trade deal devoid of trade distorting subsidies by the developed countries and providing adequate cushion to poor farmers in a liberalised world market.