India blames US for WTO talks impasse

Written by Agencies | New Delhi, July 31: | Updated: Jul 31 2008, 19:50pm hrs
Squarely blaming the US for collapse of the WTO talks in Geneva early this week, India said it can return to negotiations but will not compromise on protection to farmers in an open market.

"I told the WTO Director General that India is ready to be on the table without compromising on issues which concern poor farmers of not only India but 100 other developing countries," Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath said here on his return from the WTO headquarters.

Describing the failure of the marathon talks between 30 trade ministers as a "serious setback to the developing countries," Nath said the US created the deadlock on an issue which was not trade but related to livelihood of farmers.

"The US thought it fit to create an impasse on a safeguard mechanism...not on commercial interest but livelihood," he said, adding "I can negotiate commerce but I cannot negotiate livelihood security".

Nath said he had spoken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh couple of times from Geneva. "Before leaving for the talks, I had a mandate which did not change," he said. He was not aware whether US President George Bush spoke to Singh on the issue.

The mini-Ministerial Meeting broke down on July 29 after nine days when the US refused to agree to proposals from India and China that they should be allowed to impose extra 25 per cent duties, if imports are up 15 per cent on farm products.

The US said, the trigger for extra duty should be given only after imports surge by 40 per cent over the average of the preceding three years. "By the time we have 40 per cent surge in imports our farmers would have committed suicides,"

Nath said adding "this trigger was not acceptable".

Asked why Brazil, an important member of G-20 did not help India on the issue of safeguards, Nath said, "The G-20 had diverse interests but the alliance is very much in tact."