India willing to cut industrial tariffs in WTO but seeks a deal

Published on Nov 27, 2006 08:19 PM IST

Kamal Nath champions cutting of tarrifs on industrial goods on a reciprocal basis, but is unyeilding on agriculture, reports Gaurav Choudhury.

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None | ByGaurav Choudhury, New Delhi

Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said on Monday that India was willing to bring down tariffs on industrial goods further but would do so only if other members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) reciprocated appropriately.
 
"I am ready to do that (cut industrial tariffs) in WTO, but if we do it unilaterally it is pocketed easily. I also want to see what I get in return," Nath said at the India Economic Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and World Economic Forum (WEF).

He felt that the basket of protection was higher in the US and Europe, particularly in value-added goods. "A 35 per cent increase in imports every year from the US cannot be termed as protectionism", he said.
 
On agriculture, he said that India’s subsistence farmers cannot compete with subsidized farmers of the US or the European Union.

"We are willing to negotiate commerce but not subsistence. Structural flaws cannot be perpetuated," he said.

The US, however, has ruled out cutting farm subsidies unilaterally, although it stated that it was open to further discussions on the issue aimed at re-starting the Doha Round of negotiations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“We are willing to match ambition with ambition”, Deputy US Trade Representative Karan Bhatia said on the sidelines of the summit.

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