Trying to move ahead in horizontal manner

Thesynergyonline Economic Bureau, August 27, 2009
“THE WTO is one (such) system which is part of the global governance mechanism for meeting these (global) objectives, and the Doha Round is an attempt to improve this system”, said Dr. Harsha Vardhana Singh, WTO Deputy Director General.

Dr. Singh was in New Delhi for an interactive session organised by CUTS International and FICCI on ‘Importance of Doha Negotiations in Today’s World’ during the last week. The meeting with Dr. Singh was organised to discuss the current state-of-play of the Doha Round Negotiations and significance of its success to both developed and developing nations of the world.

Secretary General of CUTS International, Mr. Pradeep S. Mehta and Mr. R.V. Kanoria, Chairman of FICCI task force on WTO, also shared their views at the meeting. The event attracted much attention due to the fact that a big mini-ministerial meeting of the WTO is to be held in Delhi on 3-4 September.

To begin with, Dr. Singh reiterated the commitment of G-20 nations (financial formation, not the WTO) to conclude the Doha negotiations by 2010. While moving to more specific issues, he spoke of evolution of India’s position in international trade, highlighted aspects of Doha round and the implications of the same for global economy, if successfully concluded.

He added that Doha round is the first international interaction which reflects changes in the global political economy due to growing economic importance of Brazil, China and India.

Dr Singh emphasised that the Doha Round conclusion will also positively affect other crucial multilateral issues such as climate change and financial reforms.
Mr. Mehta, while sharing his views, pointed out certain crucial aspects and other multilateral issues, such as Millennium Development Goals which relate directly to the WTO’s primary objective of creating jobs for all, and are thus of unquestionable importance.

He raised a valid concern about diplomacy in reduction of agricultural subsidies, which if agreed to, as the rich countries will resort to box shifting to continue the subsidies.

Dr. Singh assured that this negotiation round will create a level playing field for all nations by addressing the issue of tariff peaks and escalations, but also admitted that the effects will not be as all encompassing as for industrial products.

India has been unfairly blamed for the failure of the mini-ministerial meeting in July, 2008, said Mr Mehta. He asserted, that it was the lack of a fast track authority to the US President which prevented all countries to show all their cards. The same situation prevails and we do now know how to progress the agenda, unless the US gets its act together.

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