India holds key to breaking Doha deadlock: US

WASHINGTON — US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez says India's traditional leadership role in the developing world was needed to advance stalled Doha round of world trade talks and get a "good agreement."


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Published: Sun 11 Feb 2007, 8:27 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:54 PM

"India's leadership is required to get a WTO agreement that will help the whole world and will help India as well," Gutierrez told reporters on Friday ahead of a two day visit to New Delhi Feb 13-14. He leaves here today.

"It will be a quick, but very productive trip," he said describing it as a mission with twin goals: to win India's support at a "critical moment for Doha" and to demonstrate its commitment to building bilateral relations, a proclaimed "top priority" of Bush administration.

With India emerging as a key player in multilateral discussions, Washington looked to New Delhi's clout in the developing world to help the World Trade Organisation's Doha round of free trade talks get back on track, he said.

"As other developing countries watch India, and they look for cues from India, we'll need to see movement in agriculture, which of course we understand is a very important decision for India," Gutierrez said. India also needs to help break deadlocks over freeing up trade in the manufacturing and service sectors, he said.

But Gutierrez would not say whether US itself was willing to show greater flexibility in the matter of farm subsidies, which developing countries say give US farmers an unfair market advantage. "I don't want to be in a position of negotiating with ourselves," he said suggesting that US had already put forward a "quiet bold" and "most aggressive proposal" and wanted to see reciprocity from the European Union, Japan and other big importers. Gutierrez said US was not linking Doha logjam to generalised system of preferences (GSP)) even as Washington initiated a review of this duty-free trade benefit in the case of India and a dozen other countries soon after the collapse of world trade talks. "It's a separate issue requiring Congressional approval," he said.

Gutierrez, who has visited India several times in his previous job as Kellogg Co chief executive, said the $29 billion in annual US-India trade that made India the United States' 19th biggest trade partner showed the business relationship was "not at its full potential.""As large as it is, it is just getting started," he said noting that foreign direct investment (FDI) made up only 5 per cent of India's GDP whereas it was as high as 28 per cent in the case of Brazil, 20 per cent in Russia and 16 per cent in China.

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