India will continue to resist pressure from certain developed countries, including the US, at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to allow development issues of the on-going Doha round to be buried at the meeting of trade ministers in Nairobi later this month, despite a draft ministerial declaration hinting at its imminent closure.

New Delhi draws its strength from about 100 developing and least developed countries that support its stand and want the Doha Development Agenda to continue, a Commerce Ministry official said.

“We are not alone in our demand that all unfulfilled promises to poorer countries outlined in the Doha Development Agenda be met before the WTO embarks on something new. With about 100 countries supporting us, which includes the African group and the ACP group that have already made representations saying so, we do not run the chance of being isolated at Nairobi,” the official told BusinessLine .

India has also submitted a joint proposal with China, Ecuador, Indonesia, South Africa and Venezuela to the WTO stressing on the importance of continuing with the Doha Development Agenda.

If the Doha development round, launched in November 2001, is allowed to be abandoned, it will give an opportunity to rich countries to bring in new issues such as labour, environment, e-commerce, investment and competition policy into the WTO – something that India has been steadfastly opposing.

The development agenda of Doha, where rich countries are supposed to take on greater commitments to open up markets in goods and services compared to developing countries will then be dropped.

A draft ministerial text, floated by three facilitators appointed by the WTO Secretariat last week, hinted at the possible drawing of curtains on the Doha round. Without spelling it out in exact words, the draft expressed regret that an agreement has not been reached on all areas of the negotiations, including agriculture, NAMA (industrial goods), services, rules, including fisheries subsidies, and TRIPS (intellectual property).

“The draft could be next modified to say that since there is no agreement on a work programme for Doha round issues, it was not possible to continue the round. We are fighting against that possibility,” the official said.

The draft doesn’t talk about finding a “permanent solution” to India's problem of treating food procurement subsidies, but since the facilitators said in their covering note that all contentious issues are being avoided, it could be added later, the official said.

New Delhi is satisfied with the draft specifying that the principles of special and differential treatment and less than full reciprocity for developing and LDC members shall remain integral parts of the WTO’s future work. However, it may not go down well with the US.

Delegations will meet on December 2 to discuss the draft floated by the three facilitators and see if it could be taken forward.