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   Home >    World Trade Organisation: News  2008                  

No compromise on key issues in WTO talks - India
  NEW DELHI, November 17, 2008 (Reuters): India will not compromise on some of the issues which have stalled world trade talks, such as protecting its farm sector, its trade and commerce minister said on Monday. But Kamal Nath said a ministerial meeting could be convened to discuss how to take the Doha round of trade talks forward.  "Time lines are not going to dictate the content," he told reporters at the World Economic Forum India Economic Summit in New Delhi. 
  World leaders agreed on Saturday to strive for a major breakthrough in the long-running world trade talks by the end of the year and pledged not to raise any new trade barriers for the next 12 months, as part of a G20 meeting to discuss the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.

India, EU to push for services in Doha deal
   New Delhi July 8, 2008: Ahead of a meeting of trade ministers of select WTO member countries later this month, India and EU today said they would ensure talks on services, along with farm and industrial goods, are pushed through for a balanced market-opening deal under the Doha Round. 
    "A successful outcome of the Doha Round, balanced across the full range of market access issues in agriculture, industrial goods and services, is essential to secure growth in trade and boost the global economy," a joint statement by India and the European Union said. The statement was issued after Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath met EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson in London last evening to discuss the current state of play in the Doha talks. 
     "We are determined to ensure in particular that ministerial engagement on services is substantial 
and leads to strong future offers. We also remain firmly committed to taking forward issues relating 
to geographical indications and biodiversity," the statement said. 
    It said a successful Doha Round would further integrate developing countries into the world economy while reflecting the developmental objectives of the round, including sensitivities in agriculture. Trade ministers from 30 nations will meet in Geneva on July 21 for the WTO 'Mini-Ministerial Meeting' in what is seen as last ditch efforts to conclude the Doha Round, the negotiations for which have been going on for last seven years. 
    The US as well as WTO Director General Pascal Lamy is pushing for a global trade deal within the 
tenure of President George Bush that ends in 2009.- PTI 
    Battlelines drawn for WTO talks
   NEW DELHI, June 28, 2008: Even as strategies for the crucial battle at the WTO mini-ministerial on 21-24 July are being worked out over agriculture and NAMA (non-agriculture market access), developing countries led by India are seeking to extend the ambit of the talks to include areas of concern such as fisheries subsidies and bio-piracy. 
  With developed countries, led by the USA and backed by the WTO secretariat trying to include just agriculture and NAMA issues in the mini-ministerial talks, India wants issues of its concerns to be taken up as well. “What we are saying is have the ministerial on 21 July. But include these issues as well,” an official said. “These issues need to be resolved. We need to be given full consideration,” he added. 
  The developing countries are also want that the agenda for the mini-ministerial is decided by the entire trade negotiations committee (TNC), which includes all the member countries and chaired  by the WTO Director General, Mr Pascal Lamy and not by just the director general on his own. 
   The mini-ministerial, while not including all the member countries of the WTO, involves trade ministers who represent various groups of interest. On the fisheries subsidies issue, sources said the developing countries want a detailed discussion on it and a supplementary text on fisheries subsidies. The flexibilities, which must be given to developing countries to protect the livelihood of millions of poor fishermen must be taken up, India has said. 
   India, China and Indonesia have submitted a joint paper to the WTO for removing the stringent conditions mentioned in the draft proposal for allowing subsidies for their fishermen. “Look at the population of these three countries and the number of fishermen that they have,” the official said. “It’s a question of livelihood of millions. We can’t compromise on that.” All that the WTO document had done was make a reference to the issue, which did not give the developing countries any comfort or satisfaction, forcing them to call for a detailed discussion. 
   Similarly, on the TRIPS and the Convention on Bio-diversity (CBD) issue, India is pushing for incorporation of disclosure norms. Under this a patent applicant has to come clean on the origin of a product, acknowledging the traditional knowledge and genetic resources of a country. Taking prior informed consent of the community and benefit sharing with them is vital. “More than 104 member countries of the WTO are pushing for these disclosure norms and for them to be discussed at the ministerial,” the official said. However, with just six to seven countries, led by the USA, opposing it, sources fear the WTO secretariat may brush it aside.
Source: The Statesman 

  India, US to resolve differences at WTO

  NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON, June 14, 2008: India has said the allegation made by the US that it is blocking the Doha Round of trade talks is unfair and inaccurate. It added that the officials of the two countries will intensify their engagement in Geneva to narrow differences on cut in duties on industrial and farm goods. 
  “For us, the Doha Round is as important as it is to the United States or any other country. The criticism is unfair and inaccurate,” commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath said at his session with talk show host Charlie Rose. The minister, who is in Washington, met US trade representative Susan Schwab on Wednesday and Thursday, in an attempt to take forward the on-going World Trade Organisation negotiation which is stuck on critical issues related to cuts in subsidies and tariffs. 
  US under secretary of commerce for international trade Christopher A Padilla had accused India of working ``behind the scenes’’ for the demise of the on-going Doha round. According to a release issued by the Indian Embassy in the US, the two countries have agreed that every effort should be made to 
conclude the Doha Round as expeditiously as possible. “To this end, senior officials of the two countries would intensify their engagement at Geneva over the coming weeks to narrow the differences and to build on convergences,” it said. 
 Source: The Economic Times 

  Agriculture should be left out of WTO 
NEW DELHI, June 12, 2008: A high-profile meeting here of representatives of farmers, fisher folk, farm workers, rural women, adivasis and civil society organisations on Wednesday urged the government to reject the two drafts on Agriculture and Non-Agriculture Market Access that are coming up at the Doha Development Round next month. 
  The meeting passed a resolution that called for leaving agriculture out of World Trade Organisation negotiations as it was a “one-sided deal [in favour of developed nations] and a futile exercise.” The day-long meeting, organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development with the United Kingdom Department for International Development and the Ministry of Commerce, unanimously passed a resolution that said both the drafts were “an orchestrated attempt” to open up Indian markets to highly subsidised cheaper imports. Some of the participants said that in the garb of tackling inflation, the government had already done away with import duties on several important farm commodities. “Importing food is importing unemployment that will destroy livelihoods and the country’s food self-sufficiency.”
  Expressing concern at the “dilution of the government’s position at the WTO,” the resolution observed that what was being offered by way of Special Products and Special Safeguard Measures was a “smokescreen” and offered no real protection to Indian agriculture, fisheries and forestry. “We do not see any efforts by rich countries to remove their agriculture subsidies that depress global prices and insulate their transnational corporations against market volatility.”  The meeting had representatives from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, M.P., Gujarat and Maharashtra. 
  Source: The Hindu

India feels let down by WTO proposals
  New Delhi May 20, 2008: The World Trade Organisation (WTO) today released new negotiating texts on agriculture and industrial products, but India feels let down by not getting enough policy space to protect its farmers and nascent industries in the draft proposals for a Doha trade deal. 
  The revised text, released by the negotiating group on agriculture, proposes less number of products which India and other developing countries can protect from unrestricted imports from the agro exporting countries like the US, Canada and Australia. Likewise, India's plea for greater flexibility for protecting its industries, including small and medium units, has not found much favour in the draft proposals for duty cuts on manufactured goods, official sources said. "The American pressure seems to have played a role on the revised proposals," an official said. Pressure seems to be mounting on bigger developing countries, like India, China, Brazil and South Africa to "yield their market" while the developed countries do not appear prepared for sacrifice, he said. 
  The Doha negotiations, launched in 2001, for a market opening multilateral trade agreement have remained inconclusive amid differences between developed and developing countries. The talks were 
mandated to be concluded by end of 2004.
Source: Press Trust of India 

 Trade meeting of 192 nations to study growing economic power of India, China 

  GENEVA, March 18, 2008: A meeting next month in Africa of more than 3,000 delegates and 100 
government ministers will examine the growing economic power of countries such as China and India, and new forms of protectionism in the developed world that are hindering the advancement of poor nations, a U.N. agency said Tuesday.
  Supachai Panitchpakdi, the former World Trade Organization chief now heading the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, or UNCTAD, said its April 20-25 conference in Accra, Ghana, also will seek to boost long-stalled global trade talks and climate change efforts in the developing world.
  The 192-nation UNCTAD holds full meetings every four years. The presidents of Brazil, Senegal and South Africa are expected to attend. Supachai said the single biggest development since the body's last gathering is that now "we are seeing real change in that the South will have to be taken more and more seriously."
  He pointed specifically to the prominent role countries like Brazil and India have taken in World Trade Organization talks and the increasing importance of so-called sovereign wealth funds from the developing world in shoring up liquidity problems in Europe and North America as financial institutions have struggled with the ongoing fallout from the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.
Source: The Associated Press 

 Don’t push for premature deal, India tells WTO

NEW DELHI, February 04, 2008: India has cautioned the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that any attempt to push for a deal in the ongoing Doha round of trade talks by holding a ministerial meeting without groundwork could prove to be counter-productive. A deal in agriculture and industrial goods (NAMA) would not be acceptable in the absence of a deal in the services sector and on rules, New Delhi has emphasised. 
  India’s stand, voiced in the meeting of the trade negotiations committee in Geneva on Thursday, is important as the European Union (EU) and WTO director general Pascal Lamy are keen on holding a ministerial meeting next month despite the fact that there has been little progress in the area of services, officials said. 
  Speaking to reporters, they said the developed countries and the WTO secretariat seemed to have lost interest in services and wanted to conclude the agriculture and NAMA deals first, which was unacceptable to India and many other developing countries like Bangladesh. “For many members including India, we cannot relinquish the leverage on agriculture and NAMA without in turn obtaining assurance that the issues of our interest will be favourably addressed. A mere reiteration of the single undertaking principle or a process roadmap is not enough. We will have to get more concrete than that,” India’s chief negotiator said in his address at the trade negotiations committee meeting on Thursday. 
  Bangladesh’s ambassador Debapriya Bhattacharya also pointed out that an ambitious outcome on market access in services was critical for a large number of developing countries, including least developed countries (LDCs). 
The “greening” of the WTO has started — Lamy
October 24, 2007: Director-General Pascal Lamy, in a speech at the Yale University on 24 October 2007, said that the WTO has surprised critics by showing itself to be “capable of delivering not only trade justice, but some measure of environmental justice too,” citing as examples the dispute cases about asbestos and sea turtles. He said that the Doha Round is the first to have a “green chapter,” which includes negotiations on reduction of fisheries subsidies.
WTO chief Lamy sees Doha deal in 2008

DAR ES SALAAM , October 1, 2007(Reuters) - World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy said on Monday he expected completion of the Doha Trade Round in 2008 after reaching deals by the end of 2007 on difficult issues including agriculture tariffs and subsidies. Negotiators have been working with two draft proposals published in July that were aimed at reaching a deal to rebalance world trade rules. Agricultural tariffs and subsidies, and industrial tariffs, have been the most controversial areas. "The game plan as WTO members see it is let's try and get convergence on these three main issues before the end of the year, and then if we will get there it will open the way for a conclusion of the round sometime next year," Lamy said on the sidelines of a regional trade forum in Tanzania. The WTO's 151 member states are struggling to agree ways to lower worldwide tariffs and subsidies.
 India ready to negotiate agriculture subsidy at WTO
New Delhi, August. 31, 2007 (PTI):  India is sending a strong team to Geneva where talks on the latest proposals on agriculture subsidy and market access will resume on September 3, although New Delhi has rejected the WTO text on the industrial goods. Officials yesterday indicated hectic parleys are on between key WTO players, including India, to explore the possibility of holding a Ministerial Meeting in the middle of October. Ministerial Meeting, comprising trade ministers of 150 member countries, is the highest policy-making organ of the World Trade Organisation and generally meets once in two years to take stock of the multilateral trade negotiations. "We expect some progress if WTO Chief Pascal Lamy brings some changes in the NAMA text, as the present text is considered 'fundamentally flawed and biased' by 110 members," an official said. 
  The Doha Round of negotiations, launched in 2001, had to conclude by the end of 2004 but has missed several deadlines. After the collapse of the G-4 talks between the US, EU, India and Brazil in June this year, Lamy made renewed efforts to bring the round on the rails. He succeeded in getting prepared the drafts on Agriculture and NAMA. 
  India has accepted the agriculture text as a "good basis for further negotiations", but rejected the proposals seeking higher duty cuts on industrial products by developing nations. For the Doha Round to complete by the end of this year, the modalities for reducing tariffs and subsidies must be ready in the next few months. If the officials are successful in finalising these modalities, chances for the Ministerial Meeting will improve. It would be at this meeting that a 'Pledging Conference' would be held for negotiations on opening global market for services, an area of immense interest to India. 

India says WTO can still clinch Doha deal this year
GENEVA (Reuters)  Jul 6, 2007 :  Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said on Friday he believed it was "still possible" to clinch a World Trade Organisation (WTO) accord in 2007 despite recent setbacks. "Of course we can do it. We are still committed to the end of the year. It is still possible," he told reporters in Geneva after speaking to Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, who is participating in developing-nation meetings at WTO headquarters.
 Nath said he would meet European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson in London on Saturday "to try to move this forward", referring to the Doha round of talks, which were launched in the Qatari capital in 2001 with the aim of boosting global trade flows and helping poorer nations export more. The negotiations have been largely stalled since last year, when the United States and European Union locked horns with developing powers 
represented by Brazil and India over the size of needed cuts to subsidies and tariffs in sensitive areas such as farming and manufactured goods.
  They hit further trouble last month when Nath, Amorim, Mandelson and U.S. trade chief Susan Schwab failed to overcome divisions at a side session meant to salvage the Doha deal. The Doha round should have been concluded at the end of 2004. The WTO's 150 member states need to reach consensus in the negotiations, which also cover trade in services, for an accord to be reached. WTO chief Pascal Lamy has said if an agreement is not secured soon, the talks could be put on ice and would remain so until after the U.S. elections in 2008 when Washington may have more flexibility to negotiate than during the run-up to the ballot.

 Kamal Nath blames developed nations
New Delhi June 22, 2007: Blaming the developed nations for the failure of the G-4 talks between the four global powers in Potsdam, Germany Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath today said that the talks broke down due to the countries' failure to accept reductions in agricultural subsidies and seeking additional market access in the developing countries for their agricultural products including the highly subsidised ones. 
  Saying that there was no question of compromise on agricultural market access issues, the minister said: “Agreeing to this would have not only been against the mandate of the Doha Development Round, it would have seriously jeopardised the livelihoods of farmers of the developing and least developed countries and threatened the food security of many poor nations."
 The trade ministers of the G4 countries, namely India, Brazil, the United States and the European Union, had met in Potsdam on 19 and 20 June this year.This was their second meeting since April 2007 when they had charted out a plan to engage intensively on all the important issues relating to the stalled Doha Round negotiations of the WTO. The ministers had resolved then to try to seek convergence on the issues by the third week of June to facilitate a consensus in the larger multilateral process in the WTO.
 Source: Business Standard
Jute industry fails to cash in on changing global trends
KOLKATA:  JUNE 13, 2007 : The advent of the ‘open quota’ regime, globalisation and economic liberalisation under the WTO agreement have opened up new opportunities as well as challenges for the sector, as a textile family member. 
But it is yet to be seen whether it transform these possibilities into economic benefits and overall growth. At the moment, there is no significant improvement despite several policies and financial support from the Centre. The industry continues to deteriorate, with its obsolete machinery unable to deliver goods economically and keep pace with the fast changing market trends. With its 35% labour element per unit cost of production, the sector is largely labour intensive. A section of the industry itself has expressed doubts as to how long it will exist this way. 
The government, the industry and the various nodal agencies are hardly making any honest effort. The announcement of the National Jute Policy, 2005 (NJP) by the Centre brought hope, as it emphasised machinery modernisation, technology upgrade and diversification. 

WTO tells India to ease export regime 
  Source: IRIS NEWS DIGEST (11 June 2007):   The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has told India to reexamine the duty neutralisation incentives offered to the exporting community, report Business Standard. The move follows as Indian exporters are feeling the heat of the rising Rupee against the Dollar and are lobbying for a hike in drawbacks. 
The organisation has raised its finger at the India`s highly complex export regime while carrying out the country`s trade policy review. It has commented that the nation`s export regime remained highly complex, partly due to various measures to neutralise duties levied on imported inputs used in exports; export processing zones and special economic zones also offer tax holidays to investors. 
Thus, the Indian government has been asked to consider a reduction of duties across the board rather than refunding to exporters through complex schemes. Even though WTO is pointing out the complex system of duty neutralisation, the Indian government is seriously viewing the duty entitlement passbook scheme and drawback rates to make up for the 
revenue lost by exporters due to Rupee rise. 
Doha Round tech talks set to resume
Press Trust of India
LONDON, February. 3, 2007 :  Technical level talks on the Doha Round of negotiations will resume next week, breaking the impasse over the WTO talks even as India’s commerce minister, Mr Kamal Nath warned that this round could not perpetuate structural flaws in global trade and subsidy in agriculture. “The continuation of talks is important but content of talks is equally important,” Mr Nath said.
The Doha Round of negotiations of the WTO was suspended in July last year as key member countries such as the USA, EU, India and Brazil failed to bridge differences over cutting farm subsidies and reducing tariffs. Mr Nath, who played a key role in championing the cause of the developing countries and reviving the stalled talks in Geneva last week, said: “Bilaterally we have been discussing how the process should be hastened and how the process should be made effective.
From next week, we will have talks at the technical level.” He cautioned the developed countries that this round could not perpetuate structural flaws. “This is a development round and leadership of this round lies in the developed countries and if developed countries are looking at salvaging their economy by virtue of distorted trade with developing countries, it will not work. “Developed countries must ensure healthy economy in developing countries. With their own market contraction in their country, the only market is in the developing countries and more healthy the economy is in the developing countries, more markets will be open to the developed countries.”
Replying to a question on climate change and measures taken by India to deal with the issue, Mr Nath said: “India is a responsible member of the global community” and has taken into account the concerns of the environmentalists while undertaking development projects. He pointed out that India has the largest recycling industry, whether it is rubber, paper, iron or steel scraps.

16 and 18 January 2006:Economy gains from openness to trade and investment and prudent management. As a result of its openness to trade and investment together with prudent macroeconomic and structural reforms in key areas, Malaysia has made impressive strides in its recovery from the Asian financial crisis eight years ago, with GDP growth reaching an impressive 7.1% in 2004 and expected to consolidate at 5% in 2005, according to a WTO Secretariat report on the trade policies and practices of Malaysia.
India calls for protection of farmers' interests 
New Delhi, June 12. (PTI): India has called for initiatives by G-33 to effectively protect interests of farmers in developing countries in WTO negotiations under the current Doha round. Speaking at the Ministerial meeting of G-33, an alliance of developing countries on special products (SP) and special safeguard mechanism (SSM), at Jakarta, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said, "The G-33 movement is a significant grouping of 42 countries, banded together to protect our interests in agriculture." 
"We ask for nothing more than what the Doha Development Agenda and the WTO July Framework Agreement already afford us. We in the G-33 must be prepared to take a firm and determined stand (on these issues)," an official release said here today quoting Nath.  -Source: The Hindu News

5th Director general of WTO
WTO Members choose Lamy as organization's 5th Director-General. The 148 members of the WTO today (26 May 2005) formally selected Pascal Lamy of France to be the organization's fifth Director-General. All members congratulate Pascal on his selection as Director-General. His experience in trade matters, his grasp of detail and his proven track record in institutional management ensure that he will be an excellent Director-General. I look forward to working closely with him in the future, said Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, who will assume 1 September the post of UNCTAD Secretary General.
Panel reports out on geographical indications disputes

The WTO, on 15 March 2005, issued the reports of the panel that had examined complaints by the United States and Australia against ;European Communities; Protection of trademarks and geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs.
Appellate Body issues report on cotton dispute
The Appellate Body, on 3 March 2005, issued its report on the complaint of  Brazil against United States ; Subsidies on Upland Cotton.
WTO chairpersons for 2005

The General Council, on 15 February 2005, noted the consensus on the slate of names of chairpersons for WTO bodies and elected Amb. Amina Chawahir Mohamed of Kenya as its new Chairperson.
The United Kingdom donates 1.9 million Swiss Francs for the Standards and 
Trade Development Facility

On 4 February 2005, the United Kingdom Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the WTO over a contribution of £850,000 (approximately CHF 1.9 million) to the Standards and Trade Development Facility, a programme which assists developing countries in improving their expertise and capacity to analyse and implement international sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards.
WTO to help tsunami sufferers 
Supachai urges members to mull trade policies to help tsunami sufferers swiftly concluding the current Doha Agenda negotiations and perhaps other actions, such as better market access, and restraint in using trade remedies, are needed to help countries trying to recover from the Asian tsunami, WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi told members on 13 January 2005. In a letter to all members, he urged them to consider whether they can introduce any trade policies now to help the worst affected economies to recover.
WTO Secretariat reports significant decline in new final anti-dumping measures.
The WTO Secretariat reported on 1 November 2004 that the European Communities, India and the United States imposed the most new final anti-dumping measures during the first semester of 2004 while exports from China were once more the subject of the largest number of new final measures.

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