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EU shares India's concerns on farmers

However, EU does not agree with India that there can be no trade-off between agriculture and non-agriculture market access.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 14:00 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

The European Union on Tuesday saw reason in India's concerns on livelihood security for farmers in agriculture negotiations at WTO and agreed with New Delhi's view that there has to be some kind of protectionism.

"India and EU share some strong common interests in agriculture. We share India's concern on livelihood security for farmers," European Commission Director General - Trade, David O'Sullivan said.

"There is some reason in developing countries view that there has to be some kind of protectionism for addressing livelihood concerns of poor farmers," he said.

He, however, said EU did not agree with India that there can be no trade-off between agriculture and non-agriculture market access, saying Europe wanted some forward movement in other sectors for completion of Doha round of negotiations.

O'Sullivan refused to comment on New Delhi's individual position, but said G-20, of which India is a part, agreed during the Hong Kong Ministerial that there would be a "comparable level of ambition" in agriculture and industrial tariffs.

There will be some losses, but overall everyone will benefit from liberalisation going by past record, he said.

"The Doha round is a single undertaking and we cannot talk only about agriculture. There has to be some forward movement in other areas including services as well," he said.

O'Sullivan, who isin New Delhifor India-EU High-Level Trade Group meeting, said trade talks must create new commercial opportunities for both developing and developed countries.

"This will be the litmus test for WTO talks," he said, adding he was hopeful that the April 30 deadline for finishing talks on farm and industrial goods would be met.

The EU has drastically reformed its Common Agricultural Policy which would ensure elimination of export subsidies and discourage overproduction by European farmers. This would give a greater level of comfort to developing countries, he said.

At the bilateral front, O'Sullivan said the India-EU Trade Group meeting on Monday charted out the agenda and the work programme for the next few months.

The Group, set up last year during the visit of British Prime Minister Tony Blair to enhance economic cooperation between India and EU, will meet again in March, May, July and finally in September before submitting its report to the next India-EU Summit in October at Helsinki, Finland.

He said there were no discussions with Commerce Ministry officials yesterday specifically on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement or an investment pact.

First Published: Feb 14, 2006 14:00 IST