Ongoing efforts to break the deadlock over the Doha negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) could receive a boost when trade ministers from the US, the European Union, India, Brazil, Japan and Australia sit across the same table here next week.
Commerce ministry officials are tightlipped on what will be on the agenda at the meeting of the G-3 on 11 April, and G-4 and G-6 on 12 April.
A senior official, who did not wish to be identified said: “The main items of discussion will of course be agriculture and non-agriculture market access. However, whether new numbers (for tariff and subsidy reduction) will be taken up will depend on the direction of talks of the chief negotiatiors of India, Brazil, the US and the EU, who are holding bilateral meetings in Paris over the next two days.”
The G-3 meeting comprises India, Brazil and the European Commission, the G-4 will include the US while the G-6 will include Japan and Australia.
The meetings are significant because it is the first time the trade ministers from these countries will be sitting together in more than eight months, the official added.
Talks at the WTO have been deadlocked with the US, so far, being unable to offer deeper reduction in its farm subsidies.
An earlier offer to cut US subsidies from $22 billion (Rs96,800 crore) to $19 billion has already been rejected by EU and the developing countries.
There is intense pressure to break the deadlock in WTO talks with the US fast-track trade authority expiring in June. Also with the US expected to get into presidential elections mode post-December, there are apprehensions that unless a breakthrough is achieved now, the deadlock may continue well into 2008.
The multilateral meetings on WTO would be followed by bilateral economic meetings.
India will host the joint commission meeting with Brazil on 13 April, which will be chaired by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim.
India will also host the Trade Policy Forum on 13 April, which will be chaired by commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath and his US counterpart, Susan Schwab.