Fischler to visit India in bid to boost support for trade round

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Series Details Vol 7, No.15, 12.4.01, p4
Publication Date 12/04/2001
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Date: 12/04/01

By Simon Taylor

AGRICULTURE Commissioner Franz Fischler will visit India next week in a bid to drum up support for launching a new round of world trade liberalisation talks this year.

Speaking ahead of his visit from 16-18 April , Fischler said: "A future agreement on agriculture will have to address the genuine needs of all WTO members, in particular the needs of the developing countries.

We are counting on a positive contribution of India in order to strengthen the foundations for a sound and fair agricultural trading system for the years ahead."

The European Commission sees winning India's support as crucial for starting a new set of World Trade Organisation negotiations in the autumn. Trade officials believe that if India declares in favour of a round it will reassure many other developing countries that their interests will be addressed in trade liberalisation negotiations.

But New Delhi is insisting on difficult preconditions to launching a new round, including renegotiating some of the commitments it signed up to as part of the last global trade liberalisation struck in Uruguay in 1994. India wants to re-examine agree-ments on access to the EU's textile market as well as its pledges to guarantee certain intellectual property rights by set dates.

EU trade officials maintain that some of India's demands are so far reaching that they can only seriously be dealt with as part of a new round.

India is also concerned that the Union's plan to link labour and environmental standards to trade issues could be used as a new form of barrier to imports from India. New Delhi is also pushing very hard to open the EU's market to its exports. The Union is India's largest trading partner and agricultural products account for 10% of the country's exports to member states.

During his visit Fischler will meet the Union minister for agriculture, Nitish Kumar, and the minister for commerce and industry, Murasoli Maran, as well as representatives of the local rice and sugar industries and the business community.

Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler will visit India from 16-18 April 2001 in a bid to drum up support for launching a new round of world trade liberalisation talks.

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