Washington: India and the US may be able to find a way to revive the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks that collapsed last year after the two nations could not find common ground, US trade representative Ron Kirk said on Wednesday.
“India and the United States may be uniquely positioned to try to breathe new life into the Doha development Round” of WTO talks, Kirk told a business conference before meeting Anand Sharma, his counterpart from India.
Breaking the ice: Commerce minister Anand Sharma meets US trade representative Ron Kirk in Washington on Thursday. PTI
The Obama administration has given few details about how it plans to proceed on Doha. Kirk has repeatedly said that better off developing nations such as India need to provide more market access for the talks to advance.
Trade ministers came close to reaching a deal on the Doha Round of talks in July, but it collapsed because of a dispute between Washington and emerging economies, spearheaded by India, over proposals to help farmers in poor nations.
The Cairns Group, 19 nations accounting for at least 25% of the world’s agricultural exports, said last week that trade officials from the US, Europe and India had shown fresh resolve to conclude the Doha talks launched in 2001.
Kirk said he and Sharma, both new to their positions, “really hit it off” when they met last week for the first time at a trade meeting in Bali.
“He is an incredibly gifted young man,” he told a US-India business conference, drawing laughs for his quips about the two trade ministers tippling single-malt Scotch.
“I hope it’s not a sin in India,” Kirk added.
A senior business leader from India told the meeting that the two trade chiefs share a common trait.
“Neither of you are trade wonks,” said Tarun Das, chief mentor of the Confederation of Indian Industry.
World trade leaders said they were optimistic about the talks resuming after Sharma and Kirk met last week.
Sharma, who took charge as India’s commerce minister in May after the general election, said earlier this week that “the impasse has been broken” in the talks.