New York: Union minister of commerce and industry Anand Sharma said on Friday that progress in concluding global trade talks was behind schedule but that it was up to political leaders to decide if they can meet their own year-end deadline for a deal.
Anand Sharma said the Doha round of global trade talks was ongoing but “painstakingly slow.”
“It is also clear that the kind of progress which should have been made by March, which everyone was expecting, has not taken place,” Sharma told reporters in response to a question from Reuters.
“When it comes to the 2010 deadline, now this deadline was given to us,” he said, referring to the demand by leaders of the Group of 20 industrial and developing nations at a London meeting in April 2009.
Sharma was in New York meeting with Indian business executives following a visit to Washington where he signed a framework agreement to strengthen trade and investment ties with the United States.
India and the United States have clashed in the eight-year-old Doha round of world trade talks, with New Delhi demanding Washington make deeper cuts in agricultural subsidies and resisting US demands to open its own agriculture, manufacturing and services markets.
Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) meet next week for a “stock-taking” of where the talks are after ministers failed to clinch a breakthrough in July 2008.
As for the deadline?
“If the leaders want to revisit that, the matter is better left to them. As we, the ministers, who were directed to take steps, we have taken steps,” Sharma said without elaborating.
“The officials will do the stock-taking. The inputs will be fed into the G-20 and I’m sure the leaders will have the wisdom to intervene where required to close the gaps,” he said.