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WTO meet

Tokyo, Feb. 16 (pti): A three-day mini-ministerial meeting of World Trade Organisation ended today without consensus on agriculture exporting giants’ demand for increased access to markets with India backing Japan and the European Union against such a move.

Delegates from 22 nations including commerce and industry minister arun jaitley and agriculture minister ajit singh clashed over a proposal from a wto panel to reduce tariffs by an average 60 per cent in five years, slash agriculture subsidies and raise import quotas.

There was also no consensus on allowing poor countries access to cheap drugs.

Summing up india's concerns jaitley demanded greater flexibility in wto negotiations on agriculture, particularly on tariffs to protect the interests of indian farmers.

He told newsmen at the end of the deliberations that participation at the meeting had been very vital for india as several market access issues were taken up.

”The foremost which concerns us immediately is agriculture. Whereas we are somewhat satisfied that issues of reduction of domestic support and export subsidies in the developed countries are part of the wto agenda, we are still deeply concerned about market access in developing countries, particularly in india, where a large part of the population is dependent on agriculture.

”The rural population could be adversely hit if the market access is given. We therefore want a greater flexibility as far as agriculture tariffs are concerned,” he said. (more) pti dm vsc sar 02161951 d

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