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No freezing of Customs duty at current level, says Sharma
December, 16th 2011

India has ruled out any freezing ofCustom duties at current level. It has also deflated the pressure for any dilution of the flexibilities available under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) regime for imposing export restrictions and taxes in case of the agricultural produces.

Addressing a group of 20 countries ahead of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Geneva, the Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Anand Sharma, said, Tariff standstill (freezing of the custom duties at the current levels) will amount to the developing countries ceding their policy space and being denied any recognition for their autonomous liberalisation.

Besides unhinging the negotiated formula on tariff reductions, it would force the developing countries to take on commitments going much beyond what was envisaged for at the end of the Doha Round, he added. Mr Sharma desired that WTO, while taking up all manner of the new challenges, does not forget the traditional challenge of development.

He called for continued solidarity and reinvigorated engagement so that the current impasse in the Doha negotiations is broken and the attempts to replace the development centric agenda are thwarted.

He cautioned against the possibility of losing the progress and the balance achieved so painstakingly over the last decade, particularly on the reforms of the agricultural trading system. He urged the global community not to allow this opportunity to slip away or allow a dilution of the Doha mandate. Earlier, speaking at the meeting of the G33 countries (a coalition of agricultural economies, coordinated by Indonesia) he called for ushering in much delayed changes in the current agricultural trading regime which negatively impact the livelihood concerns of billions of subsistence farmers in the developing world.

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