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WTO talks must pause, not collapse

world Updated: Jul 30, 2008 18:56 IST
AFP
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Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath called on Wednesday for the World Trade Organization to treat the latest breakdown in talks for a global trade pact as a "pause, not a breakdown".

"I would only urge the Director-General to treat this as a pause, not a breakdown, to keep on the table what is there," he told a news conference the morning after talks collapsed.

"What is at stake is not mere commercial interest, but so many benefits to our African friends, to our LDCs (least developed countries), we'll have to not let these fritter away."

Nath's remarks came as world trading powers reeled at the breakdown in talks owing to differences between the United States and India over a measure to protect poor farmers from a surge in agricultural imports.

He insisted that the so-called Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) was the "bedrock of this round" and that he could not "put at stake the livelihood of one billion people".

He added: "I go back with a very heavy heart. For me personally, I thought it would be a great sense of fulfilment that all the time and years that I've invested into this round would see a closure."