India, China For Transparency In WTO Trade Negotiations

New Delhi, July 29: | Updated: Jul 30 2003, 05:30am hrs
India and China share common views on key issues such as agriculture, TRIPs and Public Health, transparency and the Singapore issues, in the context of the ongoing negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This was underlined during a meeting between disinvestment minister Arun Shourie and Chinese commerce minister Lu Fuyuan in Montreal on Monday, a few hours before the start of the three-day WTO mini-ministerial.

An official release issued in New Delhi referred to the issue of transparency and stated that both the ministers emphasised that documents should be made available to member-countries well on time so that there could be due deliberation and coordination of positions in advance of Cancun.

Transparency also meant that there should be no last minute surprises sprung on the delegates, which had characterised the past rounds of multilateral trade negotiations, they said.

On agriculture, Mr Lu said elimination of export subsidies and effective reduction of domestic support to remove distortions in the global agricultural trade was important for China with 800 million farmers. He said there could be little progress at Cancun unless the agriculture issue was resolved.

Reflecting convergence with India on the issue of TRIPs, the Chinese minister said that while protection of intellectual property rights of the patent holder in the pharma sector was important, medicines should be for the people and not for only making money.

On the Singapore issues, China concurred with Indias view that in keeping with the Doha mandate there should be an agreement first on the modalities on the basis of explicit consensus before entering into negotiations.

He agreed with Mr Shourie that there should be coordination on substantive modalities, the implications must be fully understood and we should not be asked to take the first step without knowing where the journey will end. New issues should not be brought in under the veneer of high principles as was done in the case of the TRIPs agreement, Mr Lu said while expressing concern at the attempts being made by some countries to link agriculture with the Singapore issues and stressed there could be no agreement on such issues at the cost of developing countries.

Recalling the recent visit of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to China which Mr Lu described as historic and his bilateral talks with commerce minister Arun Jaitley in Beijing, Mr Lu said he was happy to continue the discussions in Montreal and indicated Chinas keenness to intensify consultations with developing countries in the WTO.

Stating that China was now trying to fulfill the various commitments it had made during accession to the WTO, he said China would like to learn from India and its vast experience as a veteran member of the world trade body.