The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt keen to kickstart trade talks

New Delhi, Nov. 25: The government has called for resumption of global trade talks between the developed and developing nations to end the Cancun gridlock.

“India is anxious that dialogue should proceed,” commerce and industry minister Arun Jaitley said at the valedictory session of the ongoing India Economic Summit here. “India is committed to multilateralism and wants the stalemate at Cancun to be resolved,” he added.

Jaitley addressed the summit through a video conference from Bhopal, where he is campaigning for his party. He said contacts have been re-established between individual countries and stressed that bilateral talks should lead to bigger dialogues at a political level to end the impasse.

“Global trade has to go on... Global dialogue has to go on. Cancun was only a mid-point in the process of discussion. It was neither a starting point nor the end,” Jaitley said. After the December round of official level discussions at Geneva, contacts at political level and group discussions will have to be re-started, he added.

Speaking on farm issues, the minister said it was the key issue to be resolved. “The issue was a matter of political sensitivity for many countries and members needed time to understand each others concerns and can, therefore, be resolved only through dialogue.”

He said issues like non-agricultural market access, where there are less divergences, could be taken up initially. Also the issues raised at the Singapore meet should be discussed from where they were left at Cancun, he noted.

He also said the country’s economic reform is likely to accelerate as the fruits of its 12-year-old reform program have started to trickle down to the average Indian. Also the country is gradually attaining a broader consensus on this.

“The argument in favour of the reform process has succeeded,” Jaitley said. “The average Indian has started experiencing the benefits of reform,” he said. “We feel that now people are more conscious of the economic issues and their benefits.”

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