The WTO deputy director general, Dr Harsha Vardhana Singh, today lauded India’s efforts to impress upon the world the dire need for a successful outcome of the stalled Doha Round negotiations, stating that the convening of the mini-ministerial meeting in New Delhi on 3-4 September is a positive signal to get Doha moving once again.
The two-day mini-ministerial WTO meeting will bring together trade ministers from nearly 40 developed and developing countries to iron out differences in perceptions and lay the groundwork for a balanced and successful outcome of the Doha Round.
Addressing representatives of trade and industry at a function organised by Ficci and CUTS International, Dr Singh said that world leaders at various forums had emphasised a successful result for Doha negotiations because they saw the positive contribution that improved international trade and multilateral trade regime would make to economic recovery and stable conditions in the world. “If multilateral cooperation cannot obtain mutually acceptable solutions in the negotiations, getting success in other more cumbersome issues will be even more difficult because issues such as climate change or the financial and economic crisis are more complex and involve much greater collaborative understanding and assistance,” he said.
Dr Singh said the Doha negotiations show that there is no single cohesive group comprising developing countries, whether it is the area of agriculture, industry or services. “There are different concerns and interests, and countries more and more now align themselves in terms of these substantive concerns rather than merely political groupings as such. I see this as generating a more focused position which is more responsive to each nation’s key interests,” he said.
The lessons from the Doha negotiations, Dr Singh said, are that no single country can today impose its will on others, “nor should we expect cohesive groupings along the lines of developed and developing countries. This also implies a need for various countries to work together”. He said India’s concerns about subsistence farmers will be addressed through a set of flexibilities which will be an integral part of the final deal, reflecting various types of equity concerns. Specifically, these are the flexibilities provided to developing countries through special products and special safeguard mechanism for agricultural products. “We are in the last phase of these negotiating issues, having travelled long which has accommodated India’s concerns in a major way,” Dr Singh added.
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