JAITLEY HOLDS CONSULTATIONS WITH TRADE UNIONS ON WTO ISSUES
Date : 08 Aug 2003
Location : New Delhi
Initiating the process of wide ranging consultations with political parties and trade unions in the run-up to the 5th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) scheduled to be held next month in Mexico (Cancun), Shri Arun Jaitley, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Law & Justice, had a meeting with trade union representatives here last evening. Those who attended were: S/Shri Girish Awasthi, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh; Chandi Das Sinha, Indian National Trade Union Congress; P.K. Ganguli, Centre for Indian Trade Unions; R.A. Mittal, Hind Mazdoor Sabha; J. Chitranjan, All India Trade Union Congress; Krishna Chakraborty, United Trade Union Centre (LS); Abani Roy, MP. representing the United Trade Union Congress; O. P. Verma, National Front of India Trade Unions; and G. Devrajan, Trade Union Coordination Centre. Shri S. B. Mukherjee, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry and Shri Dipak Chatterjee, Commerce Secretary, were also present at the meeting along with other senior officials.
Shri Jaitley assured the trade unions that the views expressed by them would weigh very substantially with the government in formulating its negotiating positions and stressed that national interest would be of paramount importance for India in all the key areas of negotiations.
The Minister gave an overview of the state of play in the ongoing negotiations in the WTO in the context of India’s concerns and priorities especially in the key areas of agriculture; agricultural and non-agricultural market access; TRIPs and Public Health; services and implementation issues. He also explained to them India’s approach on the four Singapore issues, including investment. On non-agricultural market access or industrial goods – a subject of direct interest to the trade unions – Shri Jaitley mentioned India’s interest in differential measures for tariff reduction between developed and developing countries on the basis of less than full reciprocity.
The trade union representatives emphasised the need to protect agriculture and industry especially plantations and textiles from the adverse impact of import liberalisation through retention of quantitative restrictions (QRs), wherever required. They urged caution on Singapore issues and said that India should mobilise other developing countries in order to resist pressure from the developed country members in the negotiations. They also underlined that the WTO process must be transparent and democratic so as to ensure a fair and equitable global trading system.