India to foil attempts to shift goal post in Doha talks

India to foil attempts to shift goal post in Doha talks

New Delhi/Paris: A day ahead of a WTO informal ministerial meeting at Paris, India Wednesday said it will not accept attempts by developed countries to shift goal posts of the Doha mandate that calls for an equitable global trade deal.

Also opposing any rush into completing the Doha multilateral negotiating round, New Delhi said that the developed countries are seeking to put more demands on the developing nations for market opening. It said progress already made must be protected.

“India views such an attempt to shift goal posts as unacceptable and as a violation of the mandate," commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said.

He will participate in the informal WTO meeting of the select trade ministers on the sidelines of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Development) meet in Paris tomorrow.

The meeting, which has been convened by Australia, is likely to be attended by ministers from European Union, the US, China and Japan.

Sharma, who would push for protecting the gains already achieved during ten years of negotiations, said after taking aggressive cuts in tariff rates under the Swiss Formula, it would be difficult for emerging economies to accept “top-ups" which are sought to be made mandatory.

“Developed countries must appreciate our sensitivities, our autonomous liberalisation, the development dimension and the impact on our local industries" in case the developing countries commit to slash import duties, he said.

The developed world is seeking a multilateral agreement on drastic cuts or elimination of duties in specific areas through the so called ‘sectoral’ negotiations.

In all, there are 14 products which are under various stages of discussion with respect to the proposal but three sectors are very aggressively being pursued by the US and EU.

These are chemicals, electronics and electrical equipment and industrial machinery.

India and other developing countries insist that such a duty elimination should be voluntary and not mandatory.

Sharma expressed “concern at the attempt to shift the discourse from development to purely mercantilist issues, most of them having scant relevance for developing countries".

India does not recognise the April reports of the WTO director general and heads of negotiating groups as being the revised texts.

“The texts of December 2008 and the proposals submitted by various members remain the versions under discussion," he added.

Doha Round of talks, which began in 2001, has missed several deadlines due to differences on the demand by the developed countries on the level of market opening in the developing nations.

There are also discords on protection for farmers in the rich world.