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India hopes WTO talks will resume, but is unwaivering PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 01 August 2008

Kamal Nath, Minister for Commerce and Industry for India, speaks during a luncheon in New York in this May 8, 2008 file photo. REUTERS, NEW DELHI - India said on Thursday it was hopeful world trade talks would resume after discussions collapsed this week, but one official said it could be the middle of next year before that happened.

And no new suggestions were offered as to how the long-running Doha development round could be revived.

Talks on a new global trade pact collapsed on Tuesday as the United States and India refused to compromise over a proposal to help poor farmers in the developing world deal with floods of imports.

Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath has already said the collapse should be treated as a pause rather than a breakdown and on Thursday repeated India's stance on the issue of temporary barriers to deal with a rush of farm imports.

"I am hopeful that the process will restart again," he told a news conference after his return from the talks in Geneva.

"India stands ready whenever the process resumes."

Asked when the talks could resume, Nath said: "In the next two to three months" but did not elaborate.

However, Commerce Secretary Gopal Pillai later told a television channel he doubted much could be done before U.S. presidential elections in November and it was more likely talks would restart around the middle of next year.
They might then take a year to conclude, he said.

"So one is really looking at the conclusion of the Doha round around June 2010, and that is a pity because to an extent there was progress," Pillai said.

The seven-year Doha negotiations have been dogged by differences, often over the degree to which big developing countries such as China, India, Brazil or South Africa should open up their markets in farm products and industrial goods.

Tuesday's breakdown came after nine days of tense talks and key negotiating nations have been trading blame for the failure.

India has been one of the lead negotiators for developing nations in the Doha talks, and Nath said he told World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy that New Delhi was ready to be at the table, without compromising on issues concerning the poor at home or elsewhere.

"I was very clear in my mind that I will not negotiate the livelihood security of India's farmers and Indian agriculture," Nath told the news conference.

India faces elections by May 2009 but some trade experts say its stance is unlikely to shift much with a change of government.

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