New Delhi: A meeting of world trade ministers to be hosted by India will seek a consensus on moving stalled global trade talks forward, a commerce ministry official said on Tuesday.
India expects around 40 trade ministers to attend the two-day meeting that is being held next week, commerce secretary Rahul Khullar said.
“This is not going to be a negotiating forum,” Khullar told reporters. “We are looking for a commitment to re-engage on Doha.”
Negotiators almost clinched a global trade deal in July last year.
But the talks fell apart in a row between the United States and emerging nations - led by India - over ways to protect subsistence farmers from being overwhelmed by imports and the elimination of duties on some industries.
Last month, world leaders agreed to wrap up the Doha talks by 2010 but Khullar said countries still had to decide how to proceed.
Khullar said the ministers attending the meeting would focus on how the negotiations should be resumed, not on “substantive issues” holding up an agreement.
The informal ministerial talks will be attended by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy.
The ministers from rich and emerging nations aim to capitalize on fresh momentum in the Doha Round of trade liberalization talks launched in the Qatari capital in 2001.
The meeting, to be attended by major economic groupings like the G-20 led by Brazil, the African Group led by Egypt, United States and the European Union, would not come out with any declaration, Khullar said.
India wants the meeting to help bridge the gap between developing countries and wealthy nations, Khullar said.
But Khullar added India’s decision to host the meeting in a bid to “ginger up” the negotiating process did not mean New Delhi would compromise on livelihood and food security issues of developing nations.
“Food and livelihood security of the poor is critical to the developing countries and cannot be compromised under any circumstances,” Khullar said.
The New Delhi talks are being held as a precursor for a G-20 summit to be held in Pittsburgh in the United States on 24-25 September.