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WTO talks today; Sharma for re-energising Doha agenda

Addressing the G-20 Ministerial Meeting in Bali Monday on the eve of the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which opens today, the Union Minister for Commerce & Industry, Anand Sharma has called for re-energising the Doha Round, saying its conclusion would have gone a long way in correcting distortions in agricultural trade. 

The Minister also urged removal of disparity in agricultural trade rules as these are biased in favour of developed countries, informed ministry.

Referring to the two issues in G-20's agriculture proposals - i.e., export competition and tariff rate quotas (TRQs) market access issues, the Minister said only lip service was being paid to eliminating export subsidies as mandated in the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration of 2005, devoid of any substance and lacking binding commitment. 

Similarly, on TRQs, there are no specific deliverables on issues of concern to developing countries.

Later, the G-20 in a Ministerial Communique echoing the views of many developing countries including India said that results in export completion and tariff rate quota administration are of utmost importance and will help advance issues with a clear development dimension.

"The need to reform agricultural disciplines remains as true and urgent today as it was in 2001. G-20 will, therefore, reinforce efforts to achieve compliance with the Doha Round mandate on agricultural negotiations, given that agriculture remains the stronghold of protectionism in international trade and the great delay in continuation of the reform process," the Communique stated.

"We deeply regret that the overdue elimination of all forms of export subsidies and disciplines on all export measures .. was not achieved in 2013 as set out in the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration. Our determination to put an end to these measures is undiminished. Among all the measures that distort trade, export subsidies are by far the worst," the Communique stated.