Doha Trade Talks Not At Their Expected Stage

India’s minister of commerce and industry said March 19 that progress in concluding global trade talks was behind schedule but that it was up to political leaders to decide if they can meet their own yearend deadline for a deal.

Anand Sharma said the Doha round of global trade talks was ongoing but “painstakingly slow.”

“It is also clear that the kind of progress which should have been made by March, which everyone was expecting, has not taken place,” Sharma told reporters in response to a question from Reuters.

“When it comes to the 2010 deadline, now this deadline was given to us,” he said, referring to the demand by leaders of the Group of 20 industrial and developing nations at a London meeting in April 2009.

India and the United States have clashed in the eight-year-old Doha round of world trade talks, with New Delhi demanding Washington make deeper cuts in agricultural subsidies and resisting U. S. demands to open its own agriculture, manufacturing and services markets.

Members of the World Trade Organization meet next week for a “stock taking” of where the talks are after ministers failed to clinch a breakthrough in July 2008.

As for the deadline?

“If the leaders want to revisit that, the matter is better left to them. As we, the ministers, who were directed to take steps, we have taken steps,” Sharma said without elaborating.

“The officials will do the stock taking. The inputs will be fed into the G20 and I’m sure the leaders will have the wisdom to intervene where required to close the gaps,” he said.

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