“Impasse in the Doha Round of negotiations at the WTO can be broken by all major players if they offer some additional concessions; South Asian countries will benefit from the outcomes” said Prof. Anwarul Hoda, former Deputy Director of the WTO, in a regional consultation jointly organised by CUTS International and Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Sri Lanka, on June 18, 2010 at Colombo. The seminar entitled “South Asian Positions in the WTO Doha Round” is a part of a unique project called South Asia Forum on International Trade (SAFIT) being implemented in five South Asian countries viz Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Prof. Hoda also opined that though the Doha Round has been prolonged, he agrees with the present WTO chief that 80 per cent of the mandate of talks has been covered so far which once concluded, holds many promising prospects for developing countries. Dr. Kalegama, Executive Director of IPS highlighted the South Asian context in this regard and stressed that it is critical for countries in this region to join forces to call attention to their common interests. This is particularly important if South Asian countries, which together account for only about 2 per cent of global trade, are to withstand pressure from larger players.
Archana Jatkar, Assistant Policy Analyst, CUTS International then provided an overview of the mentioned project, which caters to the needs highlighted by Dr. Kalegama by analysing important issues dealt with by the Doha Round such as Agriculture, NAMA and Services.
Approximately 30 participants from various government departments, academia and civil society organisations across South Asia attended the consultation including Fredrick Abeyratne, Senior Programme Analyst, UNDP; Anura Herath, Sri Lanka Country Programme Management Facilitator, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); Zafar Mehmood, HEC Professor of Economics, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE); Agneshwar Sen, Joint Director General, Office of Zonal Joint Director General of Foreign Trade, Kolkata; and Amiti Sen, Senior Assistant Trade Editor, The Economic Times.
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