Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Agri-Biz & Commodities
India for resolving stalemate in WTO agriculture issues
New Delhi , May 4
INDIA today urged the developed countries to resolve the issue of converting specific duties to ad valorem equivalents that has stalled the negotiations on agriculture under the World Trade Organisation's Doha Round trade talks.
Taking part in a series of key trade meetings on the sidelines of the OECD-sponsored session on trade negotiations under the Doha Development Round in Paris, the Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Kamal Nath, said developed countries are applying specific duties on a range of tariff lines on products of export interest to developing countries, which are basically equivalent to high tariffs.
This in a way serves to deny market access to developing countries, even as the latter have bound their tariffs at ad valorem rates. Hence, Mr Kamal Nath urged the developed countries to resolve this issue by binding their specific duties in ad valorem tariffs.
"There is also the question of equity. We cannot have on the same products the rates of duty in developed countries, which are five or ten times the rate of tariffs in developing countries," Mr Kamal Nath said.
The G-20 meeting was attended by Argentina, Brazil, China, Chile, Mexico, Pakistan and South Africa, besides India.
Later, at the Five Interested Parties meeting attended by the European Union, the US, Australia, Brazil and India, the EU Trade Commissioner, Mr Peter Mandleson, and the new US Trade Representative, Mr Rob Portman, Mr Kamal Nath said, "We consider binding of tariffs in ad valorem terms to be very important for the approximate draft by the deadline of July, 2005."
Again at the G-10 conclave, a group of developed countries, which have defensive interests in agriculture, Mr Kamal Nath discussed agriculture issues in depth and said New Delhi could respect their sensibilities in agriculture, if they respected India's.
"Agriculture is not about numbers, it is about people," he said, adding that India could co-operate with the developed countries on agriculture, if they co-operated in non-agricultural market access and services.
The G-10 meeting was co-ordinated by Japan and included Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Israel, Taiwan and Korea.
Later in the evening, Mr Kamal Nath is scheduled to participate in the mini-ministerial meeting, which will be chaired by the Trade Minister of Hong Kong, the host country for the sixth ministerial meeting of the WTO from December 13 to 18, an official release said.
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