Will there be a trade deal finally? That’s the story of the Doha round of negotiations.
On Sunday, European Union (EU) trade commissioner Peter Mandelson echoed this sentiment. “There is no guarantee that the fragile package that began to emerge on Friday night will survive,” he said.
The proposals that showed a faint light at the end of the tunnel have the so-called special safeguard mechanism at their heart. This permits countries such as India to increase agricultural tariffs by 15% more than present levels in case of a surge in imports of over 40% for such commodities.
It’s still not clear if India will accept this. An AFP report quoted an unnamed Indian diplomat as saying the 40% threshold was too high.
Beyond the issue of protecting the interests of weak farmers, which are legitimate, lies a bigger question: The opportunity cost of not having a deal. India needs to think hard about what missing a deal will mean for it.