DOHA ROUND SHOULD NOT PERPETUATE GLOBAL TRADE INEQUITIES - TRADE RULES MUST BENEFIT THOSE WHO NEED IT MOST KAMAL NATH ADDRESSES HONG KONG MINISTERIAL PLENARY
Date : 14 Dec 2005
Location : New Delhi
Making a strong pitch for development, Mr. Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry, today said that the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations should not perpetuate the inequities of global trade. The ambition of developed countries cannot and must not trample on the aspirations of four-fifths of humanity, he said. In his address at the Plenary Session of the 6th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Hong Kong this afternoon, he said: “In the name of completion, if the content of this round only perpetuates the inequities of global trade, then it will be no round. To redeem the pledge we made at Doha, let us resolve to make this a round for those who need it. Let us make this a round that truly reflects the development dimension in its most beneficial and most effective sense”.
He said that the Doha mandate was to correct the “development deficit” left by the Uruguay Round and pointed out that negotiations in Hong Kong will have failed if they do not contribute towards creating a rule-based, world order, which not only makes trade free, but also make trade fair.
He indicated that there would not be any agricultural agreement without Special Products and Special Safeguard Mechanism which were needed to ensure the livelihood and food security of millions of farmers and if effectively applied, could be the bedrock of any agricultural outcome of the current Doha round. Stressing that agriculture was the structurally most flawed sector of international trade, Mr. Kamal Nath reminded the world trade body that it was in agriculture that the development outcome of Doha would be most critically judged. It was also in agriculture again that many developing countries had natural comparative advantage, but they were shut out from world markets by a complex edifice of protection, built on high tariff walls, domestic and export subsidies, and an intricate maze of non-tariff barriers, he said, while emphasising that in many developing countries, including India, hundreds of millions of low-income and subsistence farmers eked out a precarious livelihood from agriculture. “Unless the playing field is completely leveled, they cannot enter the arena of international competition. Our farmers are quite willing to deal with trade flows - but not with an avalanche of subsidy flows from developed countries” he said.
On industrial tariffs or non-agricultural market access (NAMA), Mr. Kamal Nath reiterated that market access was not about tariffs alone, as non-tariff barriers such as abuse of both anti-dumping and technical standards hindered market access for developing countries. “If we are to pursue the so-called ‘real’ market access in the NAMA negotiations, the boot is surely on the other foot…. It is no use having zero duty levels of aeroplanes, while maintaining a 30% duty on leather handbags!” he said while flagging trade barriers by India’s traditional industries as textiles, clothing, leather products, footwear and a range of other medium technology products, involving livelihood of hundreds of millions of industrial workers of small and medium enterprises in developing countries.
Similarly, access to overseas markets in services could be a powerful instrument to banish poverty in developing countries by giving stimulus to economic growth, Mr. Kamal Nath said and pointed out that: “This is why the liberalization of professional services trade in Modes 1 & 4 needs to figure high on the development agenda. It is also, of course, a paramount need of businesses everywhere in a globalised economy. The services negotiations need a clear direction, without undermining the flexibilities available to developing countries under the GATS architecture”.
He called upon the Hong Kong Ministerial to pave the way for launch of negotiations on issues relating to the TRIPs Agreement and the Convention on Bio-diversity (CBD) that is required to prevent bio-piracy and preservation of the vast bio-diversity of developing countries and also to finalise, without hedging, the proposal for duty-free, quota-free access for exports of least developed countries (LDCs) to developed country markets.
Besides making the important statement at the Plenary, Mr. Kamal Nath had a busy schedules of bilateral meetings today with - Mauritius Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Trade, Mr. Dulloo; Minister of Agro Industries & Fisheries, Mr. Boollel; and Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr. Jeepah; and the Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Mr. Toshihiro Nikai and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Mr. Shoichi Nakagawa. He also had a meeting with Mr. Clement Rohee, who is the Facilitator on Development Issues.