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'WTO members should agree to scale down global trade pact'

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 19:57

New Delhi: The 155-member countries of WTO should agree to a scaled down version of the much delayed global trade pact due to continuing differences between the developed and developing nations, a top official suggested on Wednesday.

"People have realised that it is not possible to have a single undertaking agreement on Doha Round currently, that is what ministers have agreed...," Harsh V Singh, WTO Deputy Director told a Ficci meet here.

It may be recalled the Doha Round of negotiations for a global trade pact launched in 2001 could not be concluded because of clash of interest between the rich countries and developing nations on issues like agriculture and market opening.

According to Singh, the emerging economies do not agree with what other members expect out of them.

"Over time, we have to see how the gap is closed and to that extent we can even have this in different aspects of the Doha Round coming in partial conclusions...

"That's the way they (members) are progressing right now and there can be a situation at some point in time where larger bits can be agreed...," Singh said.

He said the single undertaking agreement is not possible due to the "economic conditions" and difference of opinion between some "main members" on the extent of obligations emerging economies should have on market opening and duty cut.

Singh, who met industry chambers besides others during his visit, further said the progress in WTO talks would depend on the extent the world economy picks up.

The growth, he said, would make a more conducive political environment for the global trade talks.

Elaborating on the reasons for stalemate in Doha Round of talks, Singh said "there is a fundamental transitional and conceptualisation situation...There is a fundamental gap in the perception and understanding of the needs of developing and developed nations".

In these uncertain times, he said, WTO can act as a strong and relevant system and help to overcome the challenges facing the nations the world over.
The last WTO ministerial meeting was held in Geneva in 2011 and the next one is likely to take place in 2014-15.

Talking about protectionist measures adopted by few nations, Singh said, "Good governance is the only way out to deal with these issues and WTO can provide the required platform."

The impact of restrictions has an adverse impact on others, he added.

Further, he said that in the present economic scenario, multilateral fora are crucial for all the member nations.

The WTO allows all members to have certainty by providing them a level-playing field and a non-discrimination policy, he said.


First Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 19:57
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