INDIA’s CONCERNS IN AGRICULTURE MUST BE ADDRESSED,
KAMAL NATH TELLS WTO-DG
Date : 25 Jun 2004
Location : New Delhi
Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), accompanied by Mr. Stuart Harbinson, Director in the Office of the DG/WTO, called on the Commerce & Industry Minister, Shri Kamal Nath, here today and discussed with him the current state of play in the WTO negotiations especially in the light of the efforts being made to work out a framework agreement in agriculture which would help take forward the Doha round of trade talks. Shri E.V.K.S. Elangovan, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry and Shri Dipak Chatterjee, Commerce Secretary, were present at the meeting.
Shri Kamal Nath made it clear to the DG/WTO that India’s sensitivities and concerns in agriculture must be fully addressed while working towards the framework agreement. While welcoming the DG’s initiatives to break the impasse in trade negotiations, Shri Kamal Nath said that the new government was determined to protect the interests of Indian farmers in view of the special circumstances and vulnerabilities of the Indian agricultural sector which was a source of livelihood for over 60% of the population. On market access, the Minister pointed out that "agriculture in India is not only about trade but about subsistence, food security and livelihood concerns and hence, our aim in the ongoing negotiations is to fully protect the Indian agriculture".
Shri Kamal Nath also emphasised the importance of resolving the outstanding implementation issues within a specified timeframe and said it was essential to carry this issue forward as development was intended to be the central focus of the Doha agenda.
Dr. Panitchpakdi indicated that the current talks in Geneva were aimed at finalising a framework for agricultural negotiations. Depending on the outcome of the agriculture talks, the draft text of a framework agreement on the Doha agenda would be prepared for submission to the General Council of the WTO to be held in Geneva on 27th and 28th July. The DG/WTO expressed the hope that the existing differences among member countries would be narrowed to facilitate convergence and it would be possible settle the final framework by the end of July.