No to new issues, implement the DDA- India firms stand before Nairobi

Objecting to the WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo’s stand that Nairobi is the last opportunity, India has disagreed for setting any artificial deadlines.  India’s commerce secretary, Rita Teaotia indicated that negotiations take long time and Doha Development Agenda has not been settled even after fourteen years.

Ms Teaotaia’s firmed India’s stand against the potential agenda broadening by the developed countries at Nairobi by bringing ‘new issues’. Pre- Ministerial Conference (MC) talks indicate that the developed countries are in a mood to reintroduce the so called new issues – environment, competition policy government procurement etc. to the discussion table.

In this regard, the commerce Secretary has strongly objected to the broadening of the trade agenda without settling the issues under the Doha Development Agenda. Developing countries are disappointed about the deadlock of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) which was introduced in 2001.

India is expecting a final settlement of its food subsidy programme at Nairobi. The G-33 which is a pressure group of the developing countries and actively engaged by India demands to regard food procurement subsidy as non trade distorting exempted subsidies.  India’s food subsidy programme is now considered as AMS supports which is to be reduced within 10% of agricultural GDP. The Bali Conference has agreed to settle the issue before the eleventh MC.

Another issue for India is the provision of Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) under Agreement on Agriculture. The SSM allows countries to impose tariffs and other measures when agricultural imports cause injuries to domestic agricultural sector.

The SSM and food subsidy are the two issues set by the developing world in front of the Nairobi MC. On the other, the new issues by the developed world come on the opposite side.

The Commerce Secretary objected the Western media’s allegation that India is delaying the trade talks. “India’s intention is not to delay the talks, but to ensure that the talks come to a successful, logical and balanced conclusion, and fulfillment of the development dimension in every aspect.” Ms Teaotia also highlighted the difficulty of realizing an outcome amidst conflict of interest among participating countries.