Are trade talks nearing conclusion? Not quite, says India
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Last Updated: Thursday, September 03, 2009, 23:24
New Delhi: In what could dash the hopes of WTO chief Pascal Lamy that the ongoing trade ministers' meeting here would lead to successful culmination of global trade talks, India on Thursday said the end was nowhere in sight.

"In some quarters, it has been suggested the most issues have been settled and we are almost in end-game. However... there are still a few gaps and large number of unresolved issues. In some instances, the architecture of a solution is not yet fully in sight," Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said.

Trade ministers from 35 key WTO member countries are meeting here for two days from today to push for a global trade pact, talks for which began in Doha in 2001.

"I hope Delhi (meeting) can be the beginning of the end game of the Doha Round," Lamy said at an industry meeting today before the talks began.

Besides Lamy, Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean too felt that the Doha round is nearing the end-game.

Expressing concern over attempts to cut short the well laid out procedures for technical discussions on opening of trade of agriculture and industrial products, Sharma said: "We cannot risk alienating any of those (the members) involved".

The two-day meeting which begun amidst tight security is being attended by trade ministers and representatives from Australia, Brazil, the US, South Africa and China among others.

Sharma said the discussions "ought to mainly focus on the best way to spark the multilateral negotiations to move the round to a quick closure."

International leaders at various fora like G-20 summit have set a set a deadline of 2010 for concluding the Doha negotiations.

The Doha negotiations had collapsed in Geneva in July last year mainly on the issues of farm subsidies and level of protection being given to farmers by different members countries.

The final outcome of the Doha round, Sharma said, "must correct the historical distortions and address structural flaws in the global trading regime, while responding to the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the poor in the developing world".

Making a case for taking forward the other items on agenda, besides agriculture and industrial goods, he said, "can parallel negotiations in services and other areas be taken on board in a more proactive manner?"

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, September 03, 2009, 23:24

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