India Steps Up Attack On US, EU Ahead Of WTO Meet

8 September, 2003
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India steps up attack on US, EU ahead of WTO meet

PTI [ TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 09, 2003 06:26:53 PM ] CANCUN (MEXICO): The five-day ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation begins here on Wednesday to find a common ground on contentious issues like farm subsidies as India stepped up its attack on the United States and European Union accusing them of being responsible for depressing farm prices in developing countries.

A 60-member Indian delegation led by Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley arrived here on Tuesday for participation in the meeting with a mandate from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to safeguard national interests. India is expected to oppose any move to bring in investment and competition rules into the work programme of the WTO besides attempts by the US and EU to bulldoze their way in the tough agriculture negotiations.

Shortly after landing here, Jaitley did some plain-speaking saying high domestic support and export subsidies in industrialised nations depressed farm prices and hurt poor farmers in the developing countries.

Strong domestic support and export subsidies in developed nations have placed tremendous curbs on the export of farm goods by developing nations which had been blocking progress on other fronts in the WTO.

A large number of anti-globalisation activists have descended on this beach resort to protest against free trade and growing trade and corporate domination. Jaitley met with US Trade Rrepresentative Robert Zoellick, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and ministers from like-minded group of developing countries and Brazilian authorities ahead of the meeting.

"We made it amply clear the fact that depressed farm prices due to heavy domestic support and export subsidies in US and EU was hurting farmers in countries like India most as they were not getting remunerative prices for their produce," Jaitley is believed to have told Zoellick and Lamy.

India, Brazil and China and 17 other developing countries have already joined hands to counter the pro-developed stance of EU and US on agriculture, which has irked Lamy, who has indicated that agriculture would be a hot issue at the ministerial. Armed with a broad political consensus and support from industrial and trade chambers, Jaitley is expected to fight any attempts to bring in the so-called Singapore issues comprising investment, competition policy, trade facilitation and transparency in governemnt procurement into the work programme of WTO.

WTO members have missed practically all the deadlines they had set for themselves when they launched the Doha Development Round in November, 2001. "Of course, the fact that we have missed some important deadlines means that the decision-making aspect of our work in Cancun will be more burdensome than was envisaged in Doha," WTO director general Supachai Panitchpakdi told reporters on the eve of the meeting's start.

He said decisions would no doubt be required in the areas of agriculture, non-agricultural market access, implementation and special and differential treatment.


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