'India gained from WTO deal'

By agencies   |   Thursday, 22 December 2005, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India has made substantial gains from the WTO Ministerial agreement that takes care of the country's concerns in agriculture, industry and services sector without compromising on the country's policy space, a top Commerce Ministry official said on Thursday.

"We have been able to achieve a large aspect of our defensive interests without giving up on our options for future negotiations," Commerce Secretary S N Menon said at a CII conference on WTO.

Menon said India would not have to reduce the 'de minimis' support given to farmers while the provision of special products and special safeguard mechanism would check the surge in cheap farm imports.

As per the agreement, India would retain the 'de minimis' support at 10 per cent of the total agricultural production.

The country can also self-designate products on which it would not cut tariffs, he said.

The developed countries would also phase out their export subsidies and other export guarantee programs, resulting in higher prices of farm products that will benefit exporters.

On industrial tariffs, Menon said the agreement mentions Swiss formula with "coefficients" and other formulae of developing countries such as Argentina, Brazil, India (ABI) and by Caricom (Caribbean countries) were still on table.

The negotiations in services were far more complicated, he said, adding the criticism on this issue was "misplaced".

Menon said unlike many other developing countries, India had aggressive interests and greater liberalization in the sector was in national interest.

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