Washington: Indian Commerce Minster Anand Sharma says while a perfect Doha deal may not be possible, he is hopeful a "balanced and fair" trade deal protecting the interests of the poorest countries could be reached.
"We have to reassure the poorest of the poor that we are all committed to work collectively for development," he said at a conference on global services trade here Tuesday.
Sharma said India agrees that it is time for negotiations on services to proceed "horizontally" with agriculture and manufacturing to set the stage for a successful WTO ministerial level round later this year in Geneva.
But a "balanced and fair" Doha deal needs to take into account that developed countries already have a much larger share of services trade than developing countries, he said.
"I think offers have to be good from everyone, also from the United States of America," Sharma said.
Later, Sharma discussed the Doha Round negotiations with US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk. The two also discussed a range of issues that will be taken up in the US-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting they will chair in New Delhi Oct 26.
The TPF is the main policy tool for the bilateral trade agenda, and the US and India are working together to create greater opportunities for trade and investment.
Also in that light, Kirk and Sharma acknowledged the productive Doha Round discussions that took place last week in Paris, USTR's office said.
At the conference Kirk said there could be no deal on the long-stalled negotiations unless they result in new market opportunities in the services area, something he said is "still achievable".
"We know that the biggest gains to the global economy are likely to derive from multilateral services liberalisation, but the offers on the table right now fail to deliver on that promise," he said.
"Some of the largest emerging markets are still walled off to services trade by regulations that restrict foreign competition and tilt the playing field in favour of domestic champions," he said, adding that the restrictive policies are usually in the form of unwritten, non-tariff barriers.
Sharma also met Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean to discuss the Doha round of talks.
First Published: Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 12:30