Wednesday, September 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

India steps up attack on USA, EU
Jaitley in Mexico for WTO meet
K.R. Sudhaman

Cancun (Mexico), September 9
The five-day ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) begins here tomorrow to find a common ground on contentious issues like farm subsidies as India stepped up attack on the USA and the European Union (EU), accusing them of being responsible for depressing farm prices in developing countries.

A 60-member Indian delegation led by Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley arrived here today for participation at the meeting with a mandate from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to safeguard national interests.

India is expected to oppose any move to bring in investment and competition rules into the work programme of the WTO besides attempts by the USA and the EU to bulldoze their way in the tough agriculture negotiations.

Shortly after landing here, Mr Jaitley did some plain-speaking, saying that high domestic support and export subsidies in industrialised nations depressed farm prices and hurt poor farmers in the developing countries.

Strong domestic support and export subsidies in developed nations have placed tremendous curbs on the export of farm goods by developing nations which had been blocking progress on other fronts in the WTO.

Mr Jaitley met US trade Representative Robert Zoellick, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and ministers from like-minded group of developing countries and the Brazilian authorities ahead of the meeting.

“We made it amply clear the fact that the depressed farm prices due to heavy domestic support and export subsidies in the USA and the EU was hurting farmers in countries like India as they were not getting remunerative prices for their produce,” Mr Jaitley is believed to have told Mr Zoellick and Mr Lamy.

India, Brazil and China and 17 other developing countries have already joined hands to counter the pro-developed stance of the EU and the USA on agriculture, which has irked Mr Lamy, who has indicated that agriculture would be a hot issue at the meeting.

Armed with a broad political consensus and support from industrial and trade chambers, Mr Jaitley is expected to fight any attempts to bring in the so-called Singapore issues comprising investment, competition policy, trade facilitation and transparency in government procurement into the work programme of the WTO.

The WTO members have practically missed all deadlines they had set for themselves when they launched the Doha Development Round in November, 2001.

“Of course, the fact that we have missed some important deadlines means that the decision-making aspect of our work in Cancun will be more burdensome than was envisaged in Doha,” WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi told reporters on the eve of the meeting’s start.

He said decisions would no doubt be required in the areas of agriculture, non-agricultural market access, implementation and special and differential treatment. — PTI


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