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Indian People’s Campaign against WTO: Parlemantair mandaat nodig voor Mini-top WTO

Verklaring van de Indian People’s Campaign against WTO (21 juli), ondermeer ondertekend door voormalige premier van India:
"WTO Deal: regering van Manmohan Singh moet expliciet mandaat van Indiaas parlement hebben voor de Mini Ministerial"

9 min leestijd
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WTO Wirodhi Bharatiya Jan Abhiyan
(Indian People’s Campaign against WTO)
Mailing Address: 3260, Sector ‘D’, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi – 110 030, INDIA
Tel: +91-11-26897089 ; Email:;
July 21, 2008
New Delhi

WTO Deal:
Manmohan Singh Government Must Obtain Explicit Mandate of the
Parliament for the Mini Ministerial

Statement from the Indian Peoples Campaign against the WTO (IPCAWTO)
on upcoming WTO Mini-Ministerial Conference (21-25 July 2008) at

After several failed attempts over the last 7 years, the WTO will yet
again try to conclude the Doha Round of trade talks at a
Mini-Ministerial meeting in Geneva from 21-25 July 2008. WTO Director
General Pascal Lamy has announced that a select group of Ministers
(including Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath) will be
invited to this meeting to finalise critical aspects of ongoing
negotiations. Two revised texts, on agriculture and non-agricultural
market access (NAMA) issued on 19th May 2008 will form the basis of

The IPCAWTO is of the firm opinion that the latest texts confirm that
the current developments in the WTO are tilting the outcome decisively
against the interest of farmers, agricultural labour,
fisherpeople,working classes, small enterprises and consumers. The
signatories to this statement believe that the Government of India
should not agree to a deal at the Geneva meeting for the following


The current text requires India (and other developing countries) to
reduce tariffs on agricultural products by 36 percent as against the
developed countries obligation to reduce them by 54 percent. It must
be noted that an average cut of 36 percent on bound tariffs in
agriculture is a stiff proposition for India. The market access
implied in the visualised reduction in developed countries tariffs
will depend on what happens in the top bracket tariffs which are very
high and precisely where no hard commitment is visible. Moreover, the
issue of elimination/substantial reduction in subsidies by developed
countries, particularly USA, still remains hanging awaiting a
‘political solution’. Even assuming that the largest reduction
indicated in the likely range materialses, the level of permissible
subsidies in USA will still remain much higher than the actual level
prevailing in 2007. And the huge lot of the so-called "Green Box"
subsidies will continue to remain outside any effective multilateral
discipline, leave aside any reduction commitment whatsoever. It is
unrealistic to expect any substantial improvement in the situation
from the developing countries’ point of view at the forthcoming
Ministerial Conference, given that the Bush administration does not
have the "fast-track" authority from the USA’s Congress to sign a Doha
Round agreement. The recent passage of the Farms Act (which patently
runs counter not only to the expectations of developing countries but
also the public stand of the Bush Administration in the negotiations
in the current round) by both the houses of the USA legislature by a
veto- proof majority is a clear enough portent.

Minister Kamal Nath has a mandate to safeguard the livelihoods of
millions of small and marginal peasants. He has argued that the
Special Products and Special Safeguard Mechanism will enable him to do
this. The current text permits only 8 percent of tariff lines as
eligible to be treated as Special Products and of these, only 40
percent, i.e. only 3.2 percent of the tariff lines, will be subject to
no tariff cuts and remaining 60 percent i.e. 4.8 percent of tariff
lines will be subject to an average of 15 percent cuts. India has 715
tariff lines in agriculture. Considering the multiplicity of our
agricultural product range and the crucial importance of these
products for livelihood, the range of protection available is too
narrow and too weak.

As regards the Special Safeguard Mechanism, the criteria in the text
for price-based measures are too restrictive and ineffectual. Thus,
the provision to impose additional duty to protect the peasantry from
sharp declines in international prices and consequent surge or threat
of surge of imports can be invoked only if the import price declines
to or below the designated ’trigger price’ which the text suggests to
be 70 percent of the average import price of the preceding three
years. And the additional duty to be levied can not exceed 50 percent
of the difference between the actual import price and the trigger
price. By definition, the import price will continue to remain much
below the ’trigger price’ even after the levy of additional duties.
Moreover, this measure will be applicable only on a
shipment-by-shipment basis. The protection offered is therefore

It is well known that the adverse impact of a decline in international
prices in a domestic market integrated with the world market is felt
even before or without large scale actual imports. What is needed to
insulate the peasantry from such adverse impacts is a strong signal
like immediate imposition of quantitative restrictions. Indian
government has willfully missed the bus in not insisting on the right
to impose quantitative restrictions to safeguard the interest of
Indian peasantry. All in all the protection regime visualised in the
text is too limited and ineffectual to protect the livelihood of
millions of small and marginal farmers against the surge or threat of
surge of cheap imports of products which would continue to be heavily


IPCAWTO believes that in the NAMA text, the tilt against the
developing countries is even more blatant. The universal binding of
tariffs, the line-by-line tariff cutting instead of average reduction
targets, application of the ‘Swiss Formula’ and more than
proportionate reduction in the tariffs of developing countries through
low coefficients and few exceptions, which constituted the hallmark of
the earlier text continue to govern the approach in the latest text.
What is worse, the ‘Paragraph 8 flexibilities’ which were insisted
upon by developing countries to mitigate the harshness of the approach
have been effectively diluted, if not nullified, by the latest text.

The choice of low coefficients leaves developing countries with little
margin or maneuverability. Recent analysis has shown that developing
countries which have had historically high tariffs would need very
high coefficients to avoid or smoothen the adverse impact on their
industries. But the ranges prescribed now are effectively the same as
before i.e. 7-9 for developed countries and 19-26 for developing
countries. India’s current level of applied tariff is, on average, 10
percent, and the bound level average is 34 percent. The cut which the
formula would likely entail will require drastic reduction of bound
level of tariff. With few exceptions available under the dispensation
of the text, it leaves the door to de-industrialisation wide open.


On the crucial issue of the General Agreement on Trade in Services
(GATS), there is an attempt by USA and Australia for a so called
‘Signaling Conference’ to push for newer market access commitments,
particularly in financial services. Financial integration with the
global markets has a sinister implication in the present context. The
’toxic waste’ of the financial services market in USA which virtually
brought the recession in US economy needs to be dumped somewhere. And
what, in the eyes of the developed world, could be a better place for
the purpose than the burgeoning financial services sector in India?
India already has a powerful ‘in-house’ lobby advocating
liberalisation and further opening of banking, insurance and other
financial services sectors. USA would, therefore, knowingly enhance
their pressure in this regard.

When the Doha Round was launched it was agreed that a satisfactory
conclusion of all outstanding implementation issues would be an
integral part of its mandate. Among these was the importance of
introducing into the Agreement on TRIPS, a mandatory requirement for
the disclosure of the origin of biological resources and/ or
associated traditional knowledge used in inventions for which property
rights are applied for. In pursuance to this developing countries
proposed a text of a new Article 29 bis in the Agreement on TRIPS.
Leave aside a thoroughgoing review of TRIPs which developing countries
had asked for, this is the minimal corrective step that the Doha Round
should have achieved in the direction of mitigating the wrongs
perpetrated by TRIPs. Two years down the line, there has been no
progress whatsoever. Like several other implementation issues that
have fallen through because of intransigence of developed countries,
we fear that this too will be ignored at the Geneva meeting.


India has little to ’take’ in the national interest and a lot to
‘give’ in the new texts. It is also important to recognise that the
Bush administration does not have the authority from the USA Congress
to conclude the negotiations in a credible manner. The "fast-track"
authority which gives credibility to the offers made by USTR in the
course of negotiations lapsed in July 2007 and is unlikely to be
renewed in the near future. The recent passage of the Farms Act (which
is inimical to the interests of developing countries, runs counter to
the spirit of the ongoing negotiations on agriculture and which is
even against the public stance of the Bush administration in these
negotiations) by both the houses of the USA legislature with a
veto-proof majority is a bad enough portent casting a deep shadow on
the credibility of US negotiators and indicating that no deal with the
USA at this stage can have any finality or reliability.

The Manmohan Singh Government must not take decisions at the upcoming
Mini-Ministerial meeting without explicit approval from the Indian

The IPCAWTO’s demands are unambiguous. India must not yield the ground
either in Agriculture or in NAMA. India should expose the lack of
authority and, therefore, credibility of USTR in the negotiations at
this stage. And Minister Kamal Nath should refrain from proceeding
further until he gets explicit approval of the Indian Parliament on
the stand he proposes to take at the forthcoming ministerial.

Endorsed By

V. P. Singh, Former Prime Minister of India,
Prakash Karat, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist),
S. P. Shukla, Convenor, Indian People’s Campaign against WTO,
S. Ramachandran Pillai, President, All India Kisan Sabha,
Surendra Mohan, Former Member of Parliament,
Amarjit Kaur, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC),
M. K. Pandhe, President, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU),
Meena Menon, Coordinator, Focus on the Global South,
Dunu Roy, Sajha Manch and

Other members of the IPCAWTO