India leads call for more protection of domestic farming at WTO talks 2008-07-28 06:37:07   Print

    GENEVA, July 27 (Xinhua) -- India led a call on Sunday for more protection of farmers in developing countries from surging imports at global trade talks which would reduce agriculture tariffs.

    The India's demand was centered on the so-called special safeguard mechanism (SSM) in the ongoing Doha Round negotiations, which would allow developing countries to raise agriculture tariffs to protect domestic farmers in the event of an import surge.

    Ministers from over 30 major members in the World Trade Organization (WTO) entered their seventh day of bargaining today, aiming to bridge lingering differences on agriculture and industrial goods with a view to wrap up the long-stalled Doha Round this year.

    The bid has proven to be a difficult one in the past week, if not impossible, with western diplomats accusing India of hindering the effort this time.

    Under proposals tabled by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, developing countries could use the SSM to protect their farming sector.

    The proposed mechanism allows tariffs to increase if imports surge over 40 percent, but India said the threshold was too high to save its small farmers and insisted on 10 percent.

    India's position was partly supported by other developing countries, which were concerned about the survival of their domestic farming sector in face of sharp rise in global food prices.

    "These safeguards are at the core of the development outcome of the (Doha) Round as they involve the concerns of food security, livelihood security and rural development in developing countries," they said.

    "In a spirit of constructive engagement, we are willing to show some flexibility in order to obtain a reasonable outcome," they added.

    However, not all developing countries were happy with India's demand, notably Latin American economies like Paraguay and Uruguay, whose farm exports are concentrated on specific products.

Editor: Yan Liang
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