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India presents WTO with last offer

india Updated: Jul 13, 2006 12:53 IST

Commerce minister Kamal Nath outlined on Wednesday what he said was a last offer in struggling global trade talks at a one-on-one session with the World Trade Organisation's top official.

While Nath refused to speak in detail about his meeting with WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, it appeared that India was not proposing a major compromise to boost the talks, which have foundered because of disagreements between rich and poor countries on opening up their markets.

"Subsistence and livelihood security are not negotiable," Nath told reporters, reiterating that India would reject significantly lowering farm and manufacturing tariffs as the European Union and the United States have demanded.

Nath said he presented India's offer at the "confessional" meeting with Lamy. When pressed for details, he said: "There's not much to say."

India's position, Nath said, has not changed in the past two weeks, even as those talks collapsed with no apparent progress.

"It's not the bottom line. It's the only line," Nath said of India's unwavering stance.

World leaders might address the long-delayed talks at a summit later this week in St Petersburg, Russia, but Nath said there were still no indications that commerce liberalisation would be on the agenda at the meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrialised countries.

"Even Mr Pascal Lamy doesn't know if he is going," Nath said. "It's for leaders to decide if they can fit (trade talks) into their schedules.

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