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US blames India, China for Doha deadlock

business Updated: Sep 13, 2011 12:17 IST

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A top US official on Monday blamed the stalemate in the Doha trade talks on India, China and other emerging nations, asserting they were unwilling to shoulder responsibilities reflecting their dramatic rise in the global economic hierarchy.

Since the Doha negotiations began in 2001, the world has changed dramatically, deputy trade representative Michael Punke stated before the US Senate Finance Committee.

"Above all, we've watched the dramatic rise of emerging economies such as China, Brazil and India," he said.

"The Obama administration, with the strong support of Congress, believes that China and other emerging economies must shoulder new responsibilities to reflect this change. So far, they have been unwilling to do so," Punke told the lawmakers.

It is no secret that the Doha Round of WTO negotiations is floundering, he said, adding that as of next month, WTO members will have been engaged in Doha negotiations for a decade, with no end in sight.

"Since the 2008 breakdown in Doha negotiations, the United States has put forward a number of procedural and substantive ideas in an effort to achieve a breakthrough in the negotiations.

"Speaking bluntly, the reticence of a number of our negotiating partners has left us with very little to show for those efforts," Punke said.

"As we approach a biennial WTO ministerial meeting this December, the time has come for both an honest assessment of where we stand and realistic guidance about where we should go. The WTO operates by consensus, so it will be vital for all WTO members to participate in this effort," Punke said.

"One thing is clear: what we are doing today in the Doha negotiations is not working. That is not a value statement, but a simple assessment of the facts. After ten years, we're deadlocked," he told the Senate Finance Committee.

"The ability of the WTO's collective membership to acknowledge the reality of our situation will be the first test of whether we can devise a credible path forward that will expand market access and strengthen the institution.

"This is important for the Doha negotiations, but also for the broader credibility of the WTO as a forum for trade negations," Punke said.

Islam A Siddiqui, the United States' chief agricultural negotiator, said the Doha negotiations are facing a difficult moment and the gaps on issues related to agriculture, non-agricultural market access (NAMA) and services are wide.

"We are being asked to make significant concessions in the first two pillars of the agricultural negotiations -- domestic support and export competition," he said.

"To balance these concessions, a final agreement would have to provide new market access for US products under the third pillar of an agricultural agreement," he asserted.

"Whatever the future direction of the Doha negotiations, I will be a strong advocate for achieving new market opportunities for US agricultural products, including in the markets of emerging economies," he added.