WTOs Covering Paper To Reflect Differences On Farm Sector

New Delhi, Aug 29: | Updated: Aug 30 2003, 05:30am hrs
In a bid to provide a semblance of balance to the second draft of the Cancun ministerial text, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has decided to attach a covering paper to it highlighting the differences in the position on agriculture between the EU-US combine and the G-20 group of developing countries including India.

Speaking at a seminar on Cancun agenda on market access, commerce additional secretary SN Menon said discussions on the issue had come to an end in Geneva and further decisions will be taken at the fifth WTO ministerial meet in Cancun, Mexico, beginning on September 10. The action had now moved from Geneva to Cancun, he said.

The second draft of the ministerial text was strongly criticised by the G-20 countries for incorporating only the views of the EU and the US. In the General Council meeting earlier this week, India stressed that a different structure of tariff reduction for developing countries was absolutely essential and a substantial reduction in domestic support and export subsidies extended by the developed countries was called for.

Mr Menon pointed out that the EU-US paper on agriculture did not even refer to the Doha mandate on phasing out of export subsidies while making ambitious demands on tariff reductions. The developing worlds opposition to it was reflected in the fact that more developing nations were joining the coalition floated by India, China and Brazil.

Mr Menon added no formula on tariff reduction was acceptable unless the subsidies were brought down by developed countries simultaneously.

On services, he said India was likely to submit its offer before the Cancun ministerial began. He said while India was keen on Mode 1 (offshore operations) and Mode 4 (movement of natural persons), its offers would depend on what other countries offered.

In the area of non-agriculture market access, Mr Jaitley said that India favoured the first proposal of the chairman of the negotiating group on market access.