Post-Cancun, Resumption Of Talks On Key Issues Depends On Trade Ministers

New Delhi, Sept 22: | Updated: Sep 23 2003, 05:30am hrs
After the collapse of the Cancun ministerial, a decision on resumption of negotiations on key issues such as agriculture, non-farm products and the Singapore issues in Geneva rests with the trade ministers of the 148-member world trade body, including India, say commerce ministry officials.

They further say the trade ministers will also have to evolve the procedure to be followed in respect of the above issues and to decide on whether a new text should be drawn up, now that the draft circulated by the conference chairman at Cancun were found unacceptable to large number of countries including those belonging to the G-21 and G-16.

Officials feel that the current round started at Doha is unlikely to be completed by January 1, 05, adding that the Uruguay round had taken nearly 10 years for reaching agreements.

At the Cancun meeting, the European Union had indicated that it was dropping the first two Singapore issues, namely, trade and investment; and competition law. This meant that the remaining two issues may be brought back for negotiations, officials felt. These are transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation.

At Saturdays news conference in Delhi, commerce and industry minister had stated that the legitimacy of the two Singapore issuestrade and investment and competition lawhad been substantially dented for the future.

He had also stated that if the world trade body adopted a fair posturing, there could be a consensus on major issues. A consensus would however elude the body if they were unreasonable in the level of ambitions on these issues.

I do feel that the issue of trade distorting farm subsidies extended by the richer countries would continue to keep the centrestage of the world trade body in the future negotiations, he had pointed out.

Moreover, the coalition of the G-21 countries on agriculture and G-16 on the Singapore issues would be maintained in the post-Cancun period, he said.