India Inc Wants Govt To Be Pro-active

New Delhi, July 30: | Updated: Jul 31 2003, 05:30am hrs
The industry wants the government to take a pro-active role in sorting out contentious issues at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) including agricultural commodities, industrial products, and investment.

According to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Indias position at the on-going WTO negotiation has improved significantly compared to the earlier rounds and it is more prepared today to fight for its interests.

In its recent national council meeting, the CII discussed in detail the progress of the Doha development agenda and the role India could play at the Cancun ministerial meet in September this year.

Elaborating on his paper presented at the council meeting, chairman of CII steering committee on WTO RV Kanoria said, The government has started interacting with the industry more and is also submitting more position papers on various issues at the WTO with the support of other developing countries.

Speaking to FE, Mr Kanoria pointed out that a large number of issues in the Doha declaration still remained unresolved. India should play a pro-active role and try to get as many issues resolved as possible, he said.

Mr Kanoria said that agriculture was the main issue which could decide the fate of the Cancun talks. He said that India should not just focus on the issue of subsidies but also recognise the advantages of increased market access.

India should not get bogged down at the idea of talks on tariff reduction as it would be in the position to gain flexibilities through special & differential treatment (S&DT) provisions. Market access should take precedence over domestic talks, he said.

On the issue of non-agricultural commodities, Mr Kanoria said that the tariff reduction formula proposed by the chairman of the negotiating group on market access was to Indias advantage provided the Beta coefficient (which is inversely proporitional to the reduction in tariff to be brought about by members) was kept around 1 or 2.

While India should try to stick to its position of keeping investment out of the negotiating table till the study process of its effect on the industry was over, Mr Kanoria said it should be prepared with counter-arguments if the European Union managed to open the issue for discussions.

In the area of TRIPs & Public Health, Mr Kanoria said the CII backed the governments position of not compromising on the December 16 draft agreement prepared by the chairman of the TRIPs Council. The US is the only country opposing the draft.