ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Hunting with the Hounds?

India is tending to hunt with the hounds in the Doha round of the World Trade Organisation.

Just as the time is approaching for the presentation of further revised draft “modalities” (parameters) for the negotiations in agriculture and industrial tariffs (non-agricultural market access or NAMA) under the Doha round of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) have been trying to get India and Brazil to back the July 2007 controversial drafts that called for deep cuts in the industrial tariffs of the developing countries, in return for some reduction in “trade-distorting domestic support” in agriculture by them. This seems like a smart move, for who could be better in taking the developing countries along than the one who has been running with the hare and hunting with the hounds – India.

Both the British prime minister Gordon Brown and the US president George W Bush reportedly asked the Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh to lend a helping hand in taking the Doha round forward on the basis of the current draft modalities in agriculture and NAMA. Manmohan Singh is reported to have told Bush that those modalities are “a reasonable compromise between (the) different positions of various countries” and although there were some grey areas, and specific numbers remained to be agreed upon, all that was required was a bit of “give and take” in which “India was ready to do its share of giving in this regard”. Manmohan Singh was supposed to have added that India has concerns only in agriculture – she needed some degree of protection through special products and safeguards, but the country would try to help in reaching a compromise; he would instruct the commerce minister to work on these lines. So it seems the Indian prime minister was quite ready to go along with the EU and the US on the controversial July draft modalities.

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