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India's constructive role needed, says US

world Updated: Jun 28, 2007 12:30 IST
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Seeking "flexibility" from developing nations on the stalled WTO talks, the United States has said India's "constructive engagement" was required for its success.

Maintaining that India will "benefit greatly" by opening up its market and becoming a "leading voice" in the developing world by offering "real reforms," US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierez said even on the bilateral trade front, India should respond to the openness provided by the US.

Addressing a packed gathering at the 32nd Anniversary celebrations of the United States-India Business Council, the Commerce Secretary said the US was "willing to make difficult choices" on the WTO talks, but added that all member countries had a "shared responsibility to make the round a success."

Asking large developing nations to "step up" efforts to move the Doha round forward, Gutierez said the recent G-4 meetings in Potsdam failed because some WTO members refused to show flexibility or even a "minimal amount" of additional market access.

"It is in India's national interest to be a leading voice in the developing world, a voice that steps up and offers real reform and real progress at the Doha Development Round.

"Without new trade flows, including the further stimulation of trade among developing countries, the economic growth and development goals that launched the Round cannot be achieved," the Commerce Secretary said.

Gutierez also brought up the issue of restrictions on import of American wheat, saying it was the Indian consumers who ultimately lose out.

"The only major country American wheat farmers can't export to is India, where restrictions on wheat imports effectively prevent American farmers from bidding on contracts to India," he said.

"Ultimately, Indian consumers pay the price. This year the Indian government will pay tens of millions of dollars more because of these barriers on American wheat imports. This is a concrete example of the cost of trade restrictions and the benefits that can be had by reducing barriers to trade," he said.

"We can't be complacent. The world is spinning faster, and countries need to take every opportunity to improve competitiveness or risk being left behind," he warned.

In order to sustain growth and expand bilateral relationship so it can reach its full potential, Gutierez said both countries must provide the people with access to the best products and widest variety of choices in the world.

"We can do this by increasing the competitiveness of our economies, and by opening them as much as possible to trade and investment," he said.