New push from rich, developing nations to global trade talks

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

L’Aquila (Italy) : The groups of rich and developing countries, including India, are likely to commit themselves to early conclusion of the Doha Development Round of multilateral trade talks under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) later Thursday.

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A statement in this regard to this effect is expected from the G8 and G5 countries, as well as Egypt, at the G8 Summit being held at this quake-hit Italian city, some 100 km northeast of Rome.

India, led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has clearly indicated that it could commit itself for completing the trade talks by next year. The country has been a key player in the current round of multilateral trade negotiations, along with the US and the EU.

“The G8 has not put a definite timeline for concluding the talks. But 2010 could be the year. We will discuss the issue at the MEF (major economies forum) today,” India’s Foreign Secretary Shivshanker Menon said.

Indian officials indicated that the country may also propose to host a Ministerial Meeting of the WTO before the next G20 Summit in September at Pittsburgh in the US. The meeting will seek to resolve existing differences over global trade issues, they said.

The Doha round of WTO to further liberalise world trade started at the Qatari capital in 2001, but has been stalled due to differences, mainly between the rich and developing countries, over issues like export sops, farm subsidies and market access.

The political transition in the US had also stalled the revival of talks.

Now, with the Barack Obama administration firmly in place in the US, and India having named Anand Sharma its new commerce ministers, the G8 leaders are optimistic that the trade talks will conclude next year.

The Indian side is also hopeful that the conclusion of Doha talks will be able to check the growing protectionism among the rich countries, make global trade more transparent and check the drop in international trade in the past year.