New Delhi: India has changed its attitude towards the slow-moving Doha trade talks and sent a positive signal by hosting a September ministerial meeting in New Delhi, Britain’s trade minister said late on Tuesday.
Along with China, India’s place at the global table in the G-20 is likely to bolster collaboration on trade, Mervyn Davies told Reuters during a visit to the India.
New Delhi is seen as a key player in the Doha trade talks, which broke down last year in a dispute between the United States and developing nations, spearheaded by India, over farm tariffs and subsidies.
Led by Union commerce minister Anand Sharma who came to office after the ruling Congress-led UPA coalition won a second term in May, India has made optimistic noises on reaching an agreement.
“I saw change in India,” Davies said when asked about India’s stance on Doha. “In India we’ve seen a realization that Doha is important, that a global trade deal would have a hugely positive impact on world trade.”
A successful Doha round could boost the global economy by $300-700 billion a year, according to a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Leaders hope to clinch a deal by the end of 2010 and ward off protectionist policies that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has warned could slow recovery.
Davies did not say by which date the deal could be signed but India had sent a “very positive” signal by hosting a trade ministers’ meeting this month. Political will mattered more than disputes on specific issues to secure a deal, he said.
“We must not take the pressure off. We’ve got to all collectively be pushing for a global trade deal,” he said.
The Doha Development Round was launched in late 2001 to boost global trade and help developing countries increase exports by lowering trade barriers.
New Delhi has insisted on measures to protect India from a possible surge in cheap imports that could swamp its millions of poor farmers.
The tough stance by India, which has weathered the financial crisis better than rich nations, has highlighted the growing clout of Asia’s third biggest economy on global issues such as trade and climate change.
Davies said India and China’s inclusion in the G-20, which will shortly meet in Pittsburgh, had changed the nature of the dialogue in the world.
“(It) can only be good for collaboration around climate change, around trade, and around financial stability,” he said.