New Delhi: With change in their chief trade negotiators, India and the US will make a renewed attempt later this week to narrow differences on the Doha Round of talks for reaching a market-opening WTO agreement.
Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma, who took charge last week, will meet new US Trade Representative Ron Kirk at Bali in Indonesia on 6-7 June, on the sidelines of the meeting of the Cairns Group of farm product-exporting countries.
Sharma received a call from Kirk on Monday. “We had the preliminary exchange of views on the present economic crisis, how it is impacting different regions,” Sharma said.
He said he would be discussing with Kirk the issues of common economic interest, including the areas of differences between the developed and the developing countries that have stalled the conclusion of the Doha Round of negotiations for opening up world trade.
He said it is important that India remains committed to completing the Doha negotiations. “The issues which had come in the way will have to be discussed and adequately addressed,” Sharma said.
The two countries have serious differences on the level of protection that can be given to farmers as and when the global market for farm products is opened up. India has argued all along that it cannot compromise on food security and livelihood concerns.
Though India and the US are not members of the Cairns Group, Sharma and Kirk would use the opportunity for exploring ways to bridge gaps in the protracted WTO negotiations.
The Cairns group comprises countries exporting farm products like South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
India’s new commerce minister, who had a stint as minister of state for external affairs in the previous government, said he would also meet trade ministers of countries like Brazil and South Africa.
India and Brazil have been spearheading the cause of developing countries in the WTO talks under the G-20 grouping.
Sharma said the drafts put out by the negotiating groups on agriculture and industrial goods can be starting points for discussions.
The Doha Round, which was launched in 2001, has missed several deadlines.