WTO talks extends as India rejects weak subsidy cutting plans by the developed bloc

The Nairobi Ministerial Conference has been extended to few more hours and the closing ceremony extended to Saturday amidst unsettled rift between India led developing nations and the advanced countries.

Closing ceremony of the conference was postponed twice on Friday and ultimately to the next day with developing countries demanding firm trade distorting domestic subsidy removal commitment from the developed countries.

Negotiations are also going on is other two critical issues related to agriculture- public stockholding of food grains and special safeguard mechanisms.

In another development the developing countries have developed more unity with the African group attacking the advanced countries for the lengthy phase-out period for export subsidies. African countries believe that export subsidies by the US and Europe are creating hurdles for exports from LDCs.

Indications are that talks extending into a fourth day with India attaining the tag of a hard bargainer. Many African media joined their European peers that India making the Bali packages a ‘hostage’ to protect its unique interests.  

“The Indian delegation found itself cast as the villain when talks stretched into the fourth day without a resolution.”- observed Daily Nation, a mainstream newspaper from Nairobi.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed who is almost anchoring the talks has observed that text on Agriculture is creating problems for the conference.

“At this point I don’t think we can talk about specifics but yes the agriculture negotiations are delicate,” she observed at the end of regular talks on Friday.

On Friday evening, India with its major G 33 partners – Turkey and Indonesia submitted a change in the draft proposal by including firm demands of the developing world. The G 33 had already rejected the draft text on agriculture that contained mainly the voices of the advanced countries.

The G 33 is demanding firm commitment on SSM- a agricultural sector protection package available only to the developing countries that was introduced as part of the Doha Development Agenda in 2001.

Reports indicate that the developed nations demand a broader deal to introduce the SSM. They are not ready for any further commitment on a rush meeting like the Ministerial Conference.