India on Monday said developing countries should be allowed enough policy space and flexibility before opening up their economies by lowering duties in agriculture and industrial goods.
The stance, spelt out at an international conference on World Trade Organization (WTO) being held in the Capital, received support from countries such as Canada, which pointed out one could not underestimate the role that developed nations would have to play to help the lesser-developed and developing nations to make the most of the opportunities that Doha Round of talks will create.
Edward Menzies, Canadian parliamentary secretary for international trade, said the lesser-developed countries tend to face serious adjustment problems linked to opening trade. Therefore, WTO members should reach out to the most vulnerable members by addressing these constraints.
WTO director-general Pascal Lamy, who also addressed the conference, said though some progress had been made in testing hypothesis, approaches and formulae, it was taking place “at too slow a pace”.
“Time is not on our side and many WTO members are becoming impatient.We need to speed up the process so as to grasp the window of opportunity which closes by the end of June with the expiry of the US Trade Promotion Authority,” he said.
Speaking at the event, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said proposals designed to impose a disproportionately higher burden on developing countries were not constructive.
Mukherjee also said that while an ambitious outcome of the non-agriculture market access negotiations is desirable, due consideration should be given to developing countries through adequate flexibility to protect their nascent industries and vulnerable sections of the economy.