Delhi To Host WTO Mini-ministerial To Discuss Cancun Agenda In March

New Delhi, January 20: | Updated: Jan 21 2003, 05:30am hrs
New Delhi will host a mini-ministerial of trade ministers to discuss the agenda for the Cancun ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in March. WTO director-general Supachai Panitchpakdi, United States (US) trade representative Robert Zoellick, European Union trade commissioner Pascal Lamy and Commonwealth trade ministers from 15 countries are scheduled to participate in the meet.

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In the run up to the Cancun ministerial conference in September, the three-day meet beginning on March 15 assumes great significance as participating ministers will hold discussions on a wide range of issues including agriculture, industrial goods, services, Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), investment, competition policy & public procurement and environment.

Although initially the meet organised by the Commonwealth Business Council and the Confederation of Indian Industry was planned without government participation, it has been turned into an unofficial WTO mini-ministerial meet at the behest of commerce and industry minister Arun Shourie. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will inaugurate the meet.

Participating countries include New Zealand, Brazil, United Kingdom, the US, Sweden, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Egypt, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Barbados, Namibia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Maurit-ius and India. The meet is being co-ordinated by Professor Razeen Sally of the London School of Economics.

The programme will begin with a ministerial roundtable session From Doha to Cancun: Translating decisions into action, where some stocktaking will be done on decisions taken at the Doha ministerial in November 2001 and the level of implementation.

It will be followed by sessions on market access in agriculture, industrial goods & services, Doha development issues including implementation issues, special & differential treatment & TRIPs and new issues such as investment, competition and public procurement & trade and environment.

The meeting will end with a closing plenary on Shaping the agenda for Cancun and beyond and a special roundtable on trade facilitation.

Subsequent to the fourth ministerial meet in Doha, this will be the third unofficial mini-ministerial for India. The first was organised by Australia in November 2002 where 25 countries participated.

The second meet will take place in Tokyo, Japan, on February 15-16 where 20 countries including India will participate.