Dont blame India for Doha deadlock

Written by Agencies | Mumbai | Updated: Aug 31 2009, 07:05am hrs
Defending Indias stand on the Doha talks, commerce minister Anand Sharma has said it was wrong to blame India for the deadlock in the WTO talks. He said on the contrary, New Delhi was making an effort to re-engage in the multilateral global trade deal.

There has been a deadlock for close to 14 months for various reasons. Sometimes, it has been projected that there was non-agreement and it was India which was responsible. No, thats not correct. We took a position. Other developing countries took a position, Sharma said at a function late on Saturday.

The Doha round of talks had collapsed at Geneva in July last year primarily on concerns over level of protection available to farmers in the developing countries in the multilateral global trade pact.

If the talks collapse, then nobody is the gainer, Sharma added.

India is hosting a meeting of about 36 trade ministers this week to re-energise the Doha round of trade talks.

World leaders have been calling for a Doha deal for 10 months now, but negotiators on the ground in Geneva are still stuck in their positions.

The complex talks focus on cutting tariffs and subsidies in agricultural goods and tariffs on industrial products from cars to chemicals. But they also involve freeing up trade in services like banking and telecoms and in environmental goods, regulating fisheries subsidies and adjusting rules on unfair imports.

Sharma is keen to get some momentum into the negotiations, as the US and Europe return from the summer break, in the run-up to the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh at the end of September.

Cynics say India also wants to show it is doing all it can with the Doha talks so that it does not get blamed if the whole thing collapses. Sharmas predecessor Kamal Nath was regularly blamed in the Western media for blocking the round.

While New Delhi says concrete negotiations on specific issues are not on this weeks agenda, it hopes that ministers from major trading powers will draw up a timetable and give the Geneva negotiators their orders to get down to work.

Some of the key players may also seize the opportunity to tackle some of the substantive issues.