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India-US emphasize on the need to conclude Doha round negotiations this year

New York
May 9, 2008
(Press Information Bureau)

Mr. Kamal Nath, Minister for Commerce and Industry Minister during his bilateral meeting with Ms. Susan Schwab, USTR, in New York discussed the progress of negotiations in the Doha Round as well as shared his views on how the negotiations could be accelerated so as to conclude them by the end of the year. Both India and US agreed that a successful conclusion of the Doha Round consistent with its development mandate, would convey a strong message of global unity and resolve in the face of increasing uncertainties in the world economy due to rising food and energy prices as well as financial turmoil in many countries.

The Agriculture negotiation pose the greatest challenges as they involve complex issues of subsidies and sensitivities on market access, especially in developing countries, in relation to food security and livelihood concerns of poor farmers. Reduction of subsidies, agreement on a disciplined regime to guide such subsidies in future, the instruments of Special Products and Special Safeguards, Measures to address developing country concerns, Tropical Products and Preference Erosion are some of the key issues still to be resolved in the negotiations. During his discussions with Ms. Schwab, Mr. Kamal Nath emphasized that these issues were at the heart of the development dimension of the Round and would need to be addressed ambitiously. India and the US agreed to work together to build consensus on these issues consistent with the mandate.

India and the US agreed that in view of the increasing importance of Services in contributing to economic growth and employment, an ambitious outcome in the Services negotiations is essential. The Ministerial meeting to be held in Geneva in the next few weeks should provide clear and unambiguous indications regarding such an outcome. Without such clear signals on Services it would be difficult to many any progress.

The Ministers also exchanged views about other areas like Industrial Goods, Anti- Dumping, Fisheries Subsidies and the TRIPS: CBD relationship. Mr. Kamal Nath emphasized the need for a revised text on Rules before the Ministerial meeting as the earlier text had been severely criticized by most members for its proposals on Anti-Dumping and Fisheries Subsidies. He said that for India these were serious livelihood concerns in Fisheries and India would not accept any constraints or restrictions on its ability to provide assistance to its poor fishermen. Similarly, on the TRIPS:CBD relationship, he said that the proposal to incorporate disclosure of use of genetic material and/or traditional knowledge un patent applications was a critical development issue which had the support of the majority of WTO members and would need to be addressed.

India and the US agreed to begin technical work on these and other issues with the objective of building consensus on them among the WTO membership.