Geneva: Urging the global trading system to be open and transparent, India said the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is bigger than the Doha trade negotiations.

At an informal trade negotiations committee meeting convened to assess the next step in the stalled Doha trade negotiations, India's trade envoy Ambassador Jayanth Dasgupta said New Delhi was fully committed to the conclusion of the ten-year-old Doha trade negotiations this year.

He insisted the members to think of all the options and alternative paths to "reach our objective of concluding the Round- whether at one go or in a phased manner."

He said, "WTO is not only about the Doha Round of negotiations. It encompasses much more," the Indian trade envoy said.
Dasgupta also stressed that there was a lot of unfinished business agenda from the previous Uruguay Round, including implementation of issues relating to difficulties faced by poor countries in living up to the trade rules.

Meanwhile, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy said the Doha round was “at the brink of failure" and the three options- "business as usual, stop and start again from scratch, and drifting away" would not help the talks.

He said the members must debate about the "next steps" to carry the negotiations forward, adding that a compromise proposal tabled by the European Union to break the deadlock in the Doha industrial goods negotiations was a welcome step.

The EU’s chief negotiator Jean-luc Demarty said its compromise proposal on sectoral industrial goods was not "take-it-or-leave it".

The EU said its three-page non-paper is "a compromise on sectorals" as it takes on board the concerns of developing countries and industrialized nations in a balanced manner.

The EU’s paper says, "The core of a compromise on sectorals will have to consist of the three biggest, commercially most important sectors: chemicals, machinery and electronics."

The paper allows developing countries to reduce tariffs in certain chemicals, barring pharmaceuticals. But in other sectors- electronics and electrical machinery, the developing countries will have to eliminate their tariffs except the audio-visual sector.

The industrialised countries, says the EU paper, would have to eliminate tariffs in chemicals, machinery and electronics.

On a preliminary assessment of the EU’s non-paper, an ace developing country negotiator said, "It is too close to the US’ basket approach and far from the middle ground."

But several industrialised countries- Japan and Switzerland among others- have welcomed the EU’s compromise non-paper as it sets the ground for focusing on the sectorals, said sources.

However, India’s trade envoy Jayant Dasgupta refused to make any comments on the proposal, saying that New Delhi was still studying the proposal.

(Agencies)