Indian farmer cannot compete with US treasury

New Delhi, Nov 16 | Updated: Nov 17 2005, 05:30am hrs
A level-playing field for developing and developed nations in international trade is possible only if there are real cuts in farm subsidies by the latter, commerce minister Kamal Nath said on Wednesday.

Calling agriculture issues one of the key areas of concern in the upcoming Hong Kong ministerial of the World Trade Organisation, the minister said that since farmers in developed countries are heavily subsidised, it would be very difficult for farmers in countries like India to compete with them.

An Indian farmer can compete with an American farmer, but he cannot compete with the US treasury, he said, at the second Indo-US economic summit. Underlining the ambiguity regarding trade distortions, Mr Nath said, What may be regarded as trade distortion by the US may not be the same for India. In the US, trade distortions affect farmers, but in India they affect an entire community and not individual farmers.

The minister said that subsidised exports may be good for consumers as they will get goods at cheaper prices. The governments entire focus at present is to make India a manufacturing hub.

Later, in a separate statement, the minister urged all member-countries of the WTO to work hard to make the Hong Kong ministerial of the WTO a success and to work even harder to bring the current Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations to a successful conclusion.

The engagement by members of the WTO in recent weeks has revealed a lack of convergence in certain areas in the negotiations. Therefore, all of us have to work hard to make Hong Kong a success and even work harder to bring the Doha Round to a successful conclusion, the minister said.