New Delhi: Undaunted by the collapse of the ministers’ meeting in Geneva last month, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy on 12 August said a global trade deal is possible by the year-end but members, including India and the US, must bridge differences at political level.
“The good news is that there may be still a possibility to move this forward and conclude these negotiations within the time-frame which all the WTO members had agreed since last year, that is end 2008,” WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said at a CII meeting .
The talks “flopped” last month after a number of countries, led by the United States and India, failed to agree over operationalisation of “special safeguard mechanism”, that would have enabled the developing countries to raise tariffs to protect poor farmers to counter surge in imports.
Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, who was also present, said, “We are at a point where a lot has been accomplished” and the deal is possible.
WTO members, which met in Geneva from 20-29 July failed to reach a consensus on agriculture and industrial goods.
Lamy said the members should “try to understand each other a bit more at political level because this is a poltical discussion that has to translate into technical discussion and not the other way round.”
When asked whether elections in India and US would have impact on the talks, Lamy said,“ there have been elections last year, there will be elections this year and next year as well. The issue is not numbers but substance.”
Referring to India’s stand on Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM), WTO Director General Lamy said, “Question is not that whether or not but what should be safeguard of this kind”.
Lamy, who is visiting the US next week, said, as a facilitator of talks, he would try impress upon both the countries to look carefully “what is on table and not to go what is available in terms of result”.
He also wanted India and US to listen to all members and make effort to conclude the talks by understanding each other at political level.