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Lamy hints at easing of Doha postures

WTO chief Pascal Lamy indicates a softening of US and EU positions on agri subsidy, reports Deepak Joshi.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2007 22:37 IST

The United States and European Union may soften their position on agriculture subsidy if India agrees to make concessions to, and thereby bring the stalled Doha round of multilateral trade negoitations to a successful completion.

Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the WTO, speaking to newsmen on Friday after a 90 minute meeting with Industry Minister Kamal Nath and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, said all the major players in trade negotiations are showing “a renewed sense of engagement and commitment”.

As a first step towards breaking the deadlock at WTO, 30 trade ministers of key nations will meet at Davos next week to draw up modalities for re-starting negotiations and fixing a time-line for the conclusion of the Doha development round, he added.

"The key to moving ahead again lies in finding the right mix of subsidy and tariff reduction. Flexibilities on agriculture market access will remain an issue. Flexibility cannot negate the objective of market access,” he noted.

Lamy also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek support to revive Doha trade negotiations.

The WTO director-general said the roadblock in agriculture negotiations need to be overcome for Doha round to move forward. Lamy said both developed and developing countries would need to take tariff cuts though greater responsibility would be on rich nations.

“A new position is being tested by the US and EU. Somewhere in cooking process Indian spice has to be added. The new offer will only be served if 3-4 chefs agree -- EU, US, India and Brazil along with Japan and Australia. Necessary understanding before something is served is essential,” Lamy said fresh after a lunch with the Indian ministers remarked.

Though he admitted there was a bottleneck on agriculture issues, he said Indian position was understandable. India has opposed providing market access in agriculture on the ground that it would have serious impact on subsistence of large number of people.

Nath underlined India’s commitment to completing the Doha development round of trade negotiations. "As India globalises it favours rule based multilateral trading system. We are ready to negotiate commerce, but not livelihood,” he observed.

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First Published: Jan 19, 2007 21:22 IST