India invites trade ministers for talks


The Hindu (India)
July 14, 2009

NEW DELHI: After giving a call for re-energising the stalled Doha Round of trade talks, India has taken yet another initiative to break the deadlock by sending invitations to all World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Ministers for holding an ‘informal round’ of talks in New Delhi in the first week of September. WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, who will also be present at the meeting, is expected to play a referee role in his continued attempts to bridge the wide gap between developing and developed countries on the level of market opening that each side is willing to offer for reaching a global trade deal.

The move comes close on the heels of the talks held by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma with world leaders during the Cairns Group meeting at Bali, Indonesia, and also later following it up with intense discussions with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and other senior officials of the Obama administration in Washington late last month. Mr. Sharma had stated that India was committed to breaking the logjam in the Doha Round of trade talks and it was important to re-energise the dialogue. “Our point of view was well appreciated by the other participants during the Cairn Group meeting and in other forum also,” Mr. Sharma added.

Official sources said here that the meeting would also comprise ministers from the member countries of the G-20 (a grouping of developing nations with offensive interest in agriculture) and some members of the G-33 (an alliance of the emerging economies which have defensive interest in agriculture). In WTO parlance, the countries with offensive interest seek markets, while those with defensive interest protect their domestic turf against the global imports.

Though India has more of a defensive interest in the farm sector, it is counted among the leaders of the G-20 because of its growing economic influence in the world trade. India has reiterated that the development dimension of the Doha round had to be honoured.

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