Onus now on rich to win back trust

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  • Published 18.02.03

New Delhi, Feb. 18: With the WTO talks at Tokyo running into rough weather, the drive to Cancun (Mexico)— where the world’s trade ministers are due to converge in September — is expected to be a bumpy one.

Commerce minister Arun Jaitley, who returned to the capital on Monday, told reporters, “The road to Cancun is riddled with roadblocks and potholes. It is for the developed countries to win back trust so that the people in the developing countries can see some tangible benefits emerge from a multilateral forum,” he added.

India took a strong stand on being allowed to calibrate its own tariffs to protect its agricultural sector, which provides a livelihood for 650 million people. The minister emphasised the need for developed countries to scale down their high level of subsidies on agriculture. The subsidy received by Indian farmers is only a small fraction of what their western counter-parts get. This is true for most developing countries as their governments do not have much money to dole out to farmers in any case.

As the leading voice of the developing world, India emphasised that the trade-related aspect of intellectual property rights (TRIPs) should be addressed keeping in mind its impact on public health. This has emerged as a commerce versus public health issue.

India also stressed that the development agenda set at the Doha conference should not be diluted and special and differential treatment and implementation issues should be taken up first.

As far as reduction of customs duties is concerned, India is reported to have taken the stand that developing countries can not reduce these beyond a point as they had to ensure the development of their own industries. Besides customs duties also formed the main source of revenue for the governments of developing countries.