WTO expects ‘more substantive’ talks in Doha Round soon

Kolkata, Aug 12 (IANS) The World Trade Organisation is expecting ‘more substantive’ talks next month to conclude the Doha Round of multilateral negotiations to free up world trade, its Deputy Director General Harsha V. Singh said here Thursday.

‘The talks have continued for quite some time. Now the ambassadors are discussing things in close sessions. Almost 80 percent of the issues are resolved,’ Singh said, addressing a seminar organised here by Indian Chamber of Commerce.

He said the areas that are needed to be discussed now are the special safeguard mechanisms in agriculture and the issue of additional market access, non-tariff measures and anti-dumping in non-agricultural market access (NAMA), environmental goods and services and fisheries.

About additional market access, he said: ‘India wants more market access in rice and this issue is being negotiated.’

The WTO’s Doha Round trade talks, launched in 2001, have been moving in fits and starts. The last high-level push for a breakthrough came in July 2008, when ministers gathered in Geneva.

That meeting collapsed over a few issues such as the US’s refusal to cut its agricultural subsidies further and India’s insistence on special safeguards to prevent exposing its millions of subsistence farmers to unfairly subsidised US competition.

The G20 leaders, who met in Toronto in June, called for trade talks to be brought to a close, citing the Doha round’s importance in ensuring a sustainable economic recovery. They, however, did not set a deadline.

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