Economy

Doha Round may be completed only by 2014: Khullar

Arun S. New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on December 20, 2011

The Commerce Secretary, Dr Rahul Khullar (left), with Mr R.V. Kanoria, President-elect, FICCI, at a seminar on WTO, Multilateral Trading System and Doha Talks in New Delhi on Tuesday. — V. Sudershan

The decade-old Doha Round negotiations for greater liberalisation of world trade are likely to be concluded only closer to 2014, the Commerce Secretary, Dr Rahul Khullar, said on Tuesday. He blamed the developed countries for not taking forward the proposal for a package of duty concessions for the benefit of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Speaking at a FICCI function, Dr Khullar predicted that the near future would see new challenges including many trade disputes due to the grey areas in the WTO rules and said India needs to be prepared for such disputes.

As the Doha Round is deadlocked there would soon be a surge in bilateral trade pacts, he said, adding that other issues that would come to the forefront in the next 3 to 5 years include energy and food security as well as labour and environmental standards.

On the reasons for the delay in the completion of Doha Round talks, the Commerce Secretary said, “In 2012, the US goes into the election mode, and then (we can) look at 2013, as by the time the (new US) administration comes into office... thereafter putting people in place and getting negotiations restarted if by the end of 2013 we have a deal you will be pretty damn lucky. My guess is you are looking closer to 2014 (for the conclusion of the Doha Round talks).”

Despite efforts to revive the Doha Round “some countries are blocking, evading and just not willing to engage,” he said.

He added, “It was pretty clear from mid-2009 that until the great recession played itself out, there was going to be no appetite in the developed world for taking on any trade agreement because they are completely overtaken by the domestic fallout of the disaster that is happening to their economies including falling growth rates and rising unemployment.”

The World Trade Organisation’s Ministerial Conference held last week could not break the Doha Round impasse. The Round, which had started in 2001, has already missed many deadlines due to the persisting differences between the developed and developing countries on the extent of liberalisation of world trade.

On the Doha Round failing to come out with a package for LDCs, Dr Khullar said: “the developed world has a lot to answer for that and not the developing nations. When in a comity of 157 members, you cannot even agree to help those at the bottom of the pyramid, there is something really wrong.”

Pointing out that India has already extended a duty free tariff preference scheme for all LDCs, he said, “We did our bit. But ask yourself how many of you (developed countries) have done it transparently tariff line by tariff line, apart from empty words.”

He also said there will soon be huge pressure on the developing nations including India to cut tariffs.

>arun.s@thehindu.co.in

Published on December 20, 2011
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