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Don’t miss the bus on trade: US

Don’t miss the bus on trade: US
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First Published: Tue, Sep 09 2008. 01 04 AM IST
Updated: Tue, Sep 09 2008. 01 04 AM IST
New Delhi: More H1B visas, tariff reductions and removal of non-tariff barriers… all these can become a reality, if India comes back to the negotiating table and stops objecting to the agriculture subsidies awarded to farmers in the US. Speaking on the sidelines of a summit on Indian investments in the US, David Bohigan, assistant secretary of the US department of commerce, said India should make good on the missed opportunities after the failure of the Doha Round of trade talks in Geneva recently.
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“My message in my Indian government meetings will be we missed a major opportunity to liberalize a multilateral trading system which could’ve helped hundreds of millions of people around the world emerge from poverty, whether that’s in agriculture or services or manufacturing. The real market access working with the world is our path to prosperity. So we believe that India and others need to come back to the table as quickly as possible to have real market access for firms and workers who have achieved unprecedented prosperity because of the liberalization of trade over the past several decades,” said Bohigian.
Bohigian went on to add, “In relation to important market liberalization, agriculture services and manufacturing, one of the issues on the table in the Doha round was mode four or the movement of professionals as well as potential to raise the cap on H1B visas. By not participating fully in the Doha round, India missed an opportunity to be able to work on those issues which is so important for its future. ”
Despite Bohigian’s exhortations, experts say India should not give in to pressure. Subir Gokarn, chief economist, Asia Pacific region at Standard and Poor’s, says, “When you look back in the evolution of our positions in trade talks going back to the Uruguay round which concluded in 1994, our full position has changed dramatically from almost seeing ourselves as victims of a process that we were too insignificant to influence and getting the short end of the stick to now a major player and influencer and a country that’s able to create very effective coalitions.”
Bohigan says he will be lobbying hard with ministers in India to get a breakthrough on issues that could not be negotiated due to the breakdown of the Doha round. Is commerce minister Kamal Nath listening?
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First Published: Tue, Sep 09 2008. 01 04 AM IST