US wont budge on subsidies

New Delhi, Nov 12 | Updated: Nov 13 2005, 05:30am hrs
Visiting US trade representative Rob Portman has said that the US offers on reducing agriculture subsidies could not be improved till there were offers on tariff cuts on the table from other members including the European Union (EU).

Speaking at a business forum organised by Ficci, Mr Portman backed Indian commerce ministers target of doubling bilateral trade to $ 40 bn by 2008.

While Mr Portman remained non-committal on the issue of increasing visas for temporary workers under Mode 4 of the services agreement, in the area of non-agriculture market access (Nama) he said that the US would not accept the Argentina, Brazil, India (ABI) formula of basing the reduction coefficient on each members average tariff and would stick to its stand of going in for two coefficients, one each for developed and developing countries.

Addressing the media after the inaugural trade forum meeting with commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath, Mr Portman said that the US offer of scaling down subsidies by 60% from the ceiling level was resulting in real cuts for farmers and he would not be in a position of committing higher cuts till he received definite promises on tariff cuts from other members.

India, US set up focus groups

MUSTR Rob Portman and commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath decided to establish focus groups on agriculture, tariff/non-tariff barriers /services, investment, innovation and creativity. The groups will meet on a regular basis functioning under commerce secretary SN Menon and deputy USTR Karan Bhatia.

I cant tell my farmers that I am going to reduce subsidies more, till I can show them that other countries are offering greater market access, he said.

Answering a question raised by FE on the US stand on India and the G-20s demand that talks on special products and special safeguard measures for developing nations should be in tandem with those on the tariff reduction formulae, Mr Portman said that the US acknowledged the importance of special products for developing countries.