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India says weakening of SSM can break WTO deal

India, which has been fighting for protection of livelihood of its poor farmers at the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round talks...

India, which has been fighting for protection of livelihood of its poor farmers at the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha Round talks, waged an aggressive battle cautioning against attempts to weaken the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) that helps developing countries curb a sudden import surge and price decline of sensitive agricultural products.

But Brazil, which is India’s partner in the powerful G-20 alliance, found it difficult to support India on SSM due to differences within the G-20 on SSM.

Meanwhile, after five long days marked by major differences, the meeting of 35 ministers from leading nations made some progress towards finalising a ‘July 2008 package’ by the middle of next week. The package is regarding liberalisation commitments on agriculture and industrial goods as well as some give and take on services, to enable the WTO’s seven-year-old Doha Round talks clinch a global trade deal.

India told a Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) meeting on Saturday that the numbers in the new SSM “has all the makings of a deal-breaker” as it would harm the interests of its poor farmers.

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Expressing serious concerns on the numbers in the new SSM proposed by Lamy that has made it difficult to make its operation effective, India said “the bound rate trigger of 140 per cent is simply not acceptable. We need serious reconsideration of this proposal.”

“We cannot go home with a provision which would ask us to wait for an import surge of 40 per cent before we can take remedial action,” India said in a statement.

On industrial goods, in a compromise, India signaled its willingness to negotiate reasonable numbers in the controversial market opening anti-concentration clause.

First published on: 27-07-2008 at 11:30:50 pm
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