Trade talks: Solving simple issue first is way forward, says WTO chief Pascal Lamy

Economic Times, January 30, 2013
With Doha round of talks for opening global trade remaining inconclusive for years, WTO chief Pascal Lamy today said member-countries should first address proposals like trade facilitation, which can be agreed upon easily, and then move to complex issues.

“…number of low hanging fruits are avialable… try and get this done while recognising that other issues are there and that they have to be dovetailed… into a working programme for negotiating a roadmap,” he said.

Speaking at a Ficci meet, Lamy said issues like trade facilitation are some of the “low handing fruits”.

Agreement on these issues, Lamy said, will help the system cope with the challenges of trade opening.

Improving trade facilitation related infrastructure and services such as border trade and easing of transit of goods would increase the volume of international trade, he said.

Seeking to allay apprehensions, he said trade facilitation will not make farmers and taxi drivers lose jobs.

Lamy also asked India to show flexibility in its stance that trade facilitation should not be de-linked from other developmental aspects of the Doha Round.

“Trade facilitation is a major issue. Whether it will be concluded (or not) remains to be seen. But at the moment we are trying to get there. Two years back, the mood was sceptic,” he said.

India`s chief negotiator at WTO Rajeev Kher, who is also Additional Secretary in the Commerce Ministry, said Doha Round was a development round and trade that is not conducive to development will only serve to push a mercantile agenda, leaving the concerns of the poor countries unattended.

India, Kher said, was not against trade facilitation and does not see it as a measure contrary to international trade.

Differences between rich and developing nations on issues like subsidies in agriculture and fisheries, tariff cut in industrial goods and market access for services have bee stumbling block in conclusion of Doha talks.

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