18 December 2015 06:36:25 IST

India fights ‘unfavourable’ WTO drafts in Nairobi

Informal texts ignore special safeguards, add new issues

India was taken by surprise by a draft ministerial declaration and informal text on agriculture, circulated on the penultimate day of the ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) trade ministers’ meet in Nairobi, which totally ignored its existing demands and concerns. But India is fighting back with its own drafts in the two areas.

New Delhi’s demand for a pact on a special safeguard mechanism to protect farmers against import surges was not respected in the agriculture text circulated by the ministerial facilitator, which additionally linked such safeguards to further lowering of tariffs on farm goods.

The inclusion of new issues pushed by US Trade Representative Michael Froman in the draft ministerial declaration circulated by the Ministerial chair Amina Mohamed has further rattled the country.

India and a number of other developing countries had been insisting that all outstanding issues in the on-going Doha development round, launched in 2001, be addressed before new items are brought in.

“The drafts were a surprise sprung on us. I have gone line by line through both drafts and identified where all we have problems and what the language should be.

“We will submit the drafts for incorporation in the final versions that come up,” said Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The Minister said that India’s draft on agriculture would insist that the text be faithful to the Hong Kong declaration, which gave countries the authority to have special safeguards.

It would also insist on a delinking from market access as safeguards already available to several developed countries did not have such conditions.