India trade minister rejects new WTO texts

NEW DELHI, May 22, 2008 (AFP) – New draft texts on industrial goods aimed at clinching an elusive deal in global trade talks will have to be “completely revised,” India’s commerce minister said on Thursday. The World Trade Organisation’s Doha round of talks to reduce trade barriers was launched in 2001 with the target of reaching an agreement by 2004.

But negotiations have long foundered over rows between developed and developing countries on agricultural subsidies and industrial tariffs.

“This text (on industrial goods) would have to be completely revised and significant convergence achieved before taking the matter for deliberation at the ministerial level,” Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said in a statement.

The minister said India was ready for a ministerial meeting but a lot of work needed to be done to narrow differences on both farm and industrial goods proposals.

“Technical discussions on both texts would start from next week and hard negotiations lie ahead,” Nath said.

Nath also underlined concerns on tariff reduction for farm products.

His statement came a day after commerce secretary G.K. Pillai said the new WTO texts ignored farm livelihoods.

The latest texts p