India willing to rejoin WTO talks but won’t compromise on farmers

NEW DELHI, July 31, 2008 (AFP) – India said on Thursday it was willing to return to the negotiating table to work out a new global trade deal but warned it would not make any compromises that could hurt poor farmers. It also pinned the blame for the talks’ collapse earlier this week in Geneva squarely on the United States.

“The US created the deadlock on an issue which was not trade but related to livelihood of farmers,” Trade Minister Kamal Nath told reporters in the Indian capital following his return from the talks.

“I can negotiate commerce but I cannot negotiate livelihood security,” said Nath, who has been uncompromising in his championing of the cause of India’s small and marginal farmers, saying New Delhi would not sacrifice the interests of its millions of subsistence producers to clinch a global trade pact.

Negotiators gave up on a deal late Tuesday following nine days of fraught discussions in Geneva that capped seven years of seeking a deal in the so-called “Doha” round of liberalising global trade subsidies and tariffs.

The coming months will “see attempts at overcoming the current impasse,” said Nath, who emerged as a pivotal figure at the talks which fell apart due to a deadlock betw