New Delhi: India came out strongly against what it said were attempts by some developed countries to suggest that developing countries should undertake higher cuts in the import duties of industrial goods at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Some three weeks after all 150 countries in WTO agreed to begin a new round of negotiations, and try to revive the troubled round, which had collapsed in July, there appears to be little budging from previously held positions.
The latest missive from India is on which bloc—developing or developed—would cut the most duties. As part of the Doha Round of trade talks, WTO members had agreed that developing countries would take less cuts than developed countries, a principle reiterated in subsequent talks.
“Proposals emanating from a few developed countries over the last few months have not only blatantly flouted the (less than full reciprocity) mandate but seem to be looking at effacing the developmental dimension of this negotiating round. If this is what the proposers believe a development round should deliver, we need to re-examine the etymology of ‘development’,” said a statement issued by the commerce and industry ministry.
The statement came even as WTO director-general Pascal Lamy suggested in an interview on Wednesday with The Wall Street Journal that negotiators were “not that far” and a “formal conclusion” to a successful round could occur within eight months of a breakthrough in the positions of the US, EU and India.
He added that the US needs to agree to reduce agricultural subsidies, the EU ought to reduce agricultural tariffs, and India must agree to reduce both agricultural and industrial tariffs.
Senior officials from India, Brazil, EU and the US have been having bilateral meetings in London all of this week to try and find common ground. Negotiators aren’t really budging, according to Peter Charlton, who represents Australian businesses. “The negotiators aren’t pulling this through,” he said, after meeting ambassadors and officials in Brussels and Geneva. “No one’s fired up about it. No natural leader has emerged for the flock, to motivate people to concede anything.”
Developed countries have been suggesting so-called Swiss coefficients of 10 and 15 for developed and developing countries which translate to reduction commitments of 33% for most developed countries and a whopping 66-70% for most developing countries, the statement notes.
A higher coefficient means a lower tariff cut and developing countries have been seekinga coefficient of at least 20or more. The latest proposals exemplify the inequity of the proposal, which inverts the mandate of the Doha Round, the statement added.
The commerce ministry statement also says that the argument that developed countries have made large commitments in the earlier rounds is flawed because they continue to have very high duties on products that are ofexport interest for the developing world.
Warren Giles of Bloomberg contributed to this story