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

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

NYC mayor says, 'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' yet blizzard warnings, travel bans remain for several East Coast states More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid