News / Asia

    As WTO Deal Teeters, Some Blame Indian Electioneering

    WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo on sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting, Bali, Oct. 5, 2013.WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo on sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting, Bali, Oct. 5, 2013.
    x
    WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo on sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting, Bali, Oct. 5, 2013.
    WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo on sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting, Bali, Oct. 5, 2013.
    Reuters
    India may hold the key to the credibility of the World Trade Organization and to a trillion-dollar trade deal that apparently was derailed this week, diplomats in Geneva said on Tuesday.
     
    WTO chief Roberto Azevedo said negotiations by ambassadors in Geneva had gone as far as they could. Specific difficulties and last-minute backtracking now can only be overcome by trade ministers at a biennial meeting on Dec 3-6, he said.
     
    "If we are to get this deal over the line, it will need political engagement and political will," Azevedo told a meeting of WTO ambassadors.
     
    U.S. Ambassador Michael Punke said that at 10 p.m. on Sunday he had been hopeful the WTO would clinch the first worldwide trade deal in its 18-year history. But last-minute problems arose that lasted until breakfast on Monday.
     
    "By 7 a.m. Monday morning, it appeared that the deal was no more," Punke said, according to a transcript of his remarks at the meeting. "We're skeptical that those who appear to be refusing to reach agreement can now be convinced by another long night of negotiation."
     
    Several diplomats leaving the meeting, asked who was to blame, mentioned India without being prompted. Others also named Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba, but their objections had been maintained throughout. India had earlier won a large concession on agriculture but was said to suddenly turn into an obstacle, apparently to gain more in agriculture.
     
    The bulk of the trade deal, supposedly the "low-hanging fruit" of the moribund Doha round of talks, is about streamlining customs procedures globally. But much of the negotiating time has been devoted to India's demand.
     
    In a breakthrough the United States initially opposed, India won to the right to subsidize food and stockpile it in the name of food security, breaking the usual WTO rules on food subsidies.
     
    Fulfilling an election promise made in 2009, India's coalition government this year expanded a welfare program to give ultra-cheap food to about 800 million people. The Congress Party, which leads the government, has been stung by polls showing it may lose ground in the next general election.
     
    Sinking ship
     
    Diplomats at the WTO said they were not sure if India — and the other holdouts — wanted more concessions, were bent on preventing a deal or just wanted a chance for their ministers to make grandstanding demands in Bali.
     
    "Some members just want this ship to sink. It's better that we fail in Geneva, and then the ministers won't have to fail," one ambassador said as he left the meeting.
     
    Punke told the meeting that the "intransigent few" should not be rewarded with more concessions. Both he and India's ambassador to the WTO declined to comment after the meeting.
     
    Several diplomats pointed out the risks in India's apparent tactics. The draft agreement protects India against a slew of trade disputes that could result in billions of dollars in trade sanctions. Under a compromise in the Bali text, India's laws would not be challenged for four years.
     
    The Indian food-security law raises spending on food subsidies 45 percent, to about $21 billion, up from about $14.4 billion in the current fiscal year. If the Bali deal fails, the additional subsidy would be illegal under existing WTO rules.
     
    When it meets on Thursday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's cabinet is expected to mandate the negotiators to seek a deal in Bali that ensures India can run the food-subsidy program without many restrictions, a senior official at India's trade ministry said.
     
    The official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said India was making all-out efforts to ensure a deal at Bali. He hinted that India was willing to cut import duty on some farm and industrial goods to ensure the deal, but gave no more details.
     
    The International Chamber of Commerce says the Bali deal would add $960 billion to the world economy and create 21 million jobs, 18 million of them in developing countries.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Nielsen's, Sina Weibo Team Up for Closer Look at Chinese Social Media

    US-based rating agency reaches deal with China's Twitter-like service to gauge marketing effectiveness on platform which has more than 200 million users

    Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

    Myanmar has third-highest mine casualty rate in the world, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which says between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora