In an address to ICC’s World Council in New Delhi today, the Indian Commerce Secretary, Gopal K. Pillai, said he believed the Doha round of trade negotiations could be brought to a successful conclusion by March 2007 and that India would play a positive role in re-starting the talks.
He urged ICC to continue putting pressure on governments to act swiftly to re-start the talks, which have been suspended since July.
“The opportunity is there to re-launch the talks by January and conclude them by March – it is the political will that is needed,” Mr Pillai said.
The commerce secretary stressed that it is time for everyone to negotiate in all four areas of the trade talks simultaneously – agriculture, non-agricultural market access, services and rules – and that any deal should be seen as a “single undertaking” that would require compromise in all areas.
So far, trade negotiators have been focusing on agricultural issues, effectively blocking progress in other areas of the talks. According to Mr Pillai, this has prevented many countries from fully understanding the benefits they could reap in the areas of non-agricultural market access, services and rules – in exchange for further compromises on agricultural issues. Once people see those benefits more clearly, he said they would be more willing to make the necessary compromises.
Following Mr Pillai’s remarks, ICC Chairman Marcus Wallenberg directed the World Council members to put additional pressure on their national governments to do whatever it takes to bring the Doha Round to a successful conclusion.
The World Council meeting was attended by more than 100 of its business members from some 44 countries including Canada, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
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