New Delhi: Trade ministers from key WTO members, including India, will be meeting at Davos in Switzerland on 29 January, amid low expectations for breakthrough for the 10-year old Doha negotiations for a global trade deal.
The informal meeting to be hosted by Switzerland on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum event, will also be attended by the director general of the World Trade Organisation, Pascal Lamy, a source said.
Ministers from the select group are expected to take stock of the progress of the Doha negotiations which have not yielded any fruitful result since their launch in 2001 at the Qataris capital.
Developed and developing countries have been blaming each other for the slow progress on talks for a multi-lateral agreement which could open the global trade.
Three days ago, a senior US official blamed India and China for not offering enough on the table for opening their markets. India has been moving “one step forward, one step back” and China has “disappointed”, he said in Geneva, the WTO headquarters. He also said India has been giving “mixed signals”.
Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma will push forward India’s demand for early conclusion of the Doha negotiations, they said. Trade ministers or senior representatives from the US, European Union and Australia are expected to converge at Davos.
Besides the Doha round of talks, the meeting is also likely to take stock of recent global trade trends, including rising commodity prices, restrictions on exports and protectionist measures in some rich countries.
India along with emerging nations like China has been protesting protectionist policies like the hike in US visa fee for professionals by the American authorities.
While leaders of the G20 had recently called upon their negotiators to try and complete the Doha talks in 2011, officials in the commerce ministry are not very hopeful of positive outcome.
Differences between rich and developing nations have been a stumbling block for a trade-opening multilateral agreement. India and other developing nations have been defending their agricultural market to protect millions of subsistent farmers from easy imports that may result from an open world.
The US and the other developed countries are, however, seeking more market access in developing nations, including India.
As per the WTO estimate, successful conclusion of Doha talks could boost the global trade by up to $200 billion in a year.