M A I N   N E W S

Kamal Nath rushes to Geneva
Tribune News Service

Bangkok, July 30
Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath today cut short his visit here as the WTO talks in Geneva ran into rough weather with India rejecting the WTO’s second draft of a framework pact.

The minister said despite the deadlock on the contentious agriculture issue, the group of five nations—India, the USA, the European Union, Brazil and Australia — would continue its efforts for two more days.

He said the group of five had been asked by the Word Trade Organisation (WTO) to thrash out the issue in consultation with other members and submit a draft proposal.

Mr Kamal Nath told reporters at a briefing that the draft was not acceptable to India as it fell short of its expectations and disclosed that he was rushing back to Geneva for a fresh round of talks. The minister said the talks were stuck on the crucial farm issues on which there was virtually no movement.

These informal discussions on the sidelines of the General Council meeting are intended to zero in on differences and attempt to eliminate these differences as much as possible before the formal negotiations begin.

The minister said India had made it clear that it was against artificial pricing of agricultural products by providing $ 300 billion worth of domestic support and export subsidy in the US and the EU.

The minister still did not sound pessimistic and maintained that a pact may finally be reached after the failure of the five previous ministerial meetings of World Trade Organisation (WTO). Mr Kamal Nath stressed the need for “some safeguard measures” by India as a kind of double protection. At the same time, he also conceded that there was a need for developed countries to reduce, if not completely remove, subsidies.

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