India`s Trade Minister, Anand Sharma
THE STRUGGLING decade-old Doha Development Round of free-trade talks must not be allowed to collapse, India`s trade minister, Anand Sharma said.
The call came as failure threatens the negotiations on expanding the global free trade system by cutting subsidies and barriers for farm produce and reducing import tariffs on industrial goods and services.
"We must not allow this round to collapse," Anand Sharma told a trade gathering also attended by World Trade Organization (WTO) chief Pascal Lamy.
India has emerged as one of the leaders of the developing countries in the painstaking trade negotiations.
Lamy, who arrived in New Delhi on Monday (September 5) for a two-day visit, told the conference that the 153 WTO members could not give up on the talks "because of a steep slope or long path."
The WTO chief is due to seek the help of India in bridging gaps on the negotiations ahead of a key ministerial meeting in Geneva in December and is expected to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.
The talks round was launched in the Qatari capital Doha in 2001, mainly to aid developing countries that felt left out of the benefits of globalisation and the previous round of liberalisation which set up the WTO in 1995.
WTO member states have repeatedly missed deadlines to agree on a global free trade pact.
The December 15 to 17 regular ministerial conference is fast turning into a watershed for the Doha talks, observers say, amid efforts to lower ambitions for the round and clinch a downsized accord.
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