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ON AN EQUAL FOOTING
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Countries at different stages of development have viewed competition issues differently based on the effects they have on their economies. Convergence in views can arise only between countries at similar stages of development. The World Trade Organization membership is too diverse to admit a framework that suits all. Further work needs to be done on understanding elements in competition such as core principles, cooperation mechanisms and the coverage and prohibition of hardcore cartels through appropriate mechanisms before we can start comprehending the implications of any multilateral discipline.

Multilateral rules, binding in nature, in respect of trade facilitation and transparency in government procurement would entail high costs for developing countries.

As far as services negotiations are concerned, liberalization of certain sectors is essential to accelerate growth in developing countries. However, there are certain sensitive sectors in which we need to tread with caution. I would like to emphasize that for developing countries including India the balance of benefit in the negotiations will accrue to the extent to which their service providers are allowed to supply services in important overseas markets either from remote locations or through temporary movement of natural persons. In case the resistance among developed countries for agreeing to the request of developing countries for enhanced market access ...continues, this would substantially erode our flexibility to make commitments in sectors of interest to developed countries.

We feel that it is necessary to make significant progress in areas of great importance to developing countries such as transfer of technology and trade debt and finance. It is now up to the ministerial conference to provide decisive political guidance so that meaningful progress is made on these issues.

We strongly support the initiative taken by certain countries regarding cotton subsidies and commodity price stabilization which are areas of critical significance to the developing countries and look forward to addressing these issues.

Mr Chairman, we are hopeful that with you as chairman of this ministerial conference, the development dimension of the work programme will occupy centre stage. We are confident that under your guidance we will collectively find solutions to the various contentious issues in such a manner that the final declaration reflects the needs and aspirations of developing countries.

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