Lamy sees major gains from Geneva commitments

Meri News, August 13, 2008

PASCAL LAMY, World Trade Organisation director general, on Tueday reeled out statistics on how the developing countries would get the lion’s share of gains from scheduled commitments made at the mini-ministerial meeting in Geneva last month. Kamal Nath, Union minister for commerce and industry, maintained that there were still major issues to be sorted out and called upon developed countries to return to the negotiating table in a spirit of sacrifice to bolster the economies of the poor nations.

Addressing the CUTS-FICCI Conference on ‘global partnership or development: Where do we stand and where to go, the WTO chief’s first interface with the Indian industry after the stalled mini-ministerial meeting, Lamy said, “If the current round had come to a successful conclusion last month, import tariffs would have come down by half, resulting in a saving of US$ 150 billion. The developing countries would have contributed a third of the sacrifice, but, benefitted to the extent of two thirds by way of savings.”

Speaking on the occasion, Nath doggedly maintained that the Doha round is not about increasing the prosperity of the developed world, but, reducing the poverty of the developing countries.

“Unless this round sees healthy economies in the developing world, there would be no market access for the developed countries,” he said, adding that the truth is that because of the subsidies given by the rich nations, there have been no investments in agriculture in the developing countries.

On the issue of SSM for agriculture, he said, “If developing countries were to reduce tariff and if there is huge import surge, the remedy lay in capping the surge at 40 per cent. By the time imports reach that level, my farmers would have committed suicide,” he remarked.

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