POLICY SPACE IN NAMA VITAL: KAMAL NATH TELLS WTO IN DALIAN
Date : 13 Jul 2005
Location : New Delhi
Developed countries must respect the requirement of policy space for developing countries, which are still in the process of industrialisation, Shri Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry, said today while speaking at the session on non-agricultural market access (NAMA) at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) informal ministerial meeting –mini ministerial – in Dalian (China). India and other developing countries made it clear that they would resist steep tariff cuts and reiterated their call for policy space in the negotiations. Shri Nath said “India categorically rejects a ‘simple’ Swiss formula with almost similar coefficients for both the developed and developing countries. By trying to keep coefficients ‘within sight of each other’, we actually end up losing sight of the development content of the Doha Round”. Harmonisation of tariffs across countries was not the mandate of the July Framework for NAMA, he added.
The Minister said the July Framework, which laid down the principles and guidelines for further negotiations for modalities in the WTO, was crystal clear that whatever the formula – whether in agriculture or NAMA – it would apply only on the bound tariff rates and not the actual applied rates. “ Several developing countries have been reducing their tariffs unilaterally and autonomously. We should be applauding and rewarding these efforts, not penalising them”. Referring to the ABI (Argentina, Brazil, India) proposal on NAMA, he said it was equitable as it provided for less than full reciprocity and proportionality for developing countries in respect of tariff reduction commitments and dealt with the problem of tariff peaks and tariff escalations in developed country markets.
Addressing the issue of development, Shri Kamal Nath made a forceful plea for the poor, saying that development must permeate all decision-making in the WTO. Citing facts and figures on poverty in the developing world, he said: “25 % of the world’s poor live in the least developed countries (LDCs) and India is fully sensitive to the needs of LDCs and is doing its bit to support them in the area of market access. At the same time, 75 % of the world’s poor live in other developing countries and four of them – India, China, Indonesia and the Philippines – account for almost three-fourths of the world’s poor. India itself has 300 million people with income of less than one dollar a day. Hence, the talk of ‘advanced developed countries’ is a matter of concern. About 88 development-related proposals were submitted at the WTO in Geneva two years ago, of which 26 were found to be workable. However, no progress has been made on this. Non-engagement of developed countries in pursuing these resulted in all the 26 proposals not moving at all. Directions should now be given to negotiators to work on these proposals”. The Minister also urged immediate action on proposals relating to protection of bio-diversity and Traditional Knowledge. He reiterated the need to address the issue of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and abuse of anti-dumping which was restricting global trade as well as for a development audit of the Uruguay Round in the last one decade.