CUTS IN MEDIA-July 2006

 

Yale Prof says Trips should be taken out of WTO
July 30, 2006, The Economic Times, New Delhi, India
Itís time for Lamy to Wear Dunkelís Hat
July 27, 2006, Thesynergyonline News Service, New Delhi, India
Consumer Body Against Bouquets Under CAS
July 24, 2006, Business Standard, New Delhi, India
CAS Yes, But With No Bouquets: CUTS International
July 22, 2006, Western Times, Ahmedabad, India
CUTS suggests three pronged strategy to salvage Doha Round
July 14, 2006, Thesynergyonline News Service, New Delhi, India
Deliberations on Doha Round talks essential
July 3, 2006, The Rising Nepal, Nepal

Archives


Yale Prof says Trips should be taken out of WTO

July 30, 2006, The Economic Times
New Delhi, India

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) should not be burdened with issues other than trade. All non-trade issues like labour and environmental standards should be kept off the WTO agenda, Yale University professor T N Srinivasan said on Saturday. Such issues would over-load the WTO agenda and impede progress in global trade liberalisation.

It was a blunder to make intellectual properties (Trips) a part of the multilateral framework, the leading economist said. The mistake should not be repeated for issues like labour and environment. “India should examine whether it is possible to get Trips off the agenda. In any case, it should prevent labour and environmental issues to become a part of the agreement,” he said.

Prof Srinivasan was speaking on the future of the global trading system at a lecture organised by CUTS in New Delhi. Emphasising on the dangers of making such issues part of the WTO which has a sting enforcement system, he pointed out that when India agreed to Trips during the Uruguay round it did not know what it would finally look like. “The Trips agreement has turned out to be much more draconian than we could ever imagine,” he said.

Prof Srinivasan pointed out that there were specialised institutions for handling non-trade issues like WIPO for intellectual property and UNEP for environment. “Don’t muck up WTO with issues that don’t fit in,” he said.

Talking about the recent suspension in talks, Prof Srinivasan said that there was a sense of deja vu all over again as in the WTO system everything repeats itself. Whenever there is an impasse, members keep saying that they will stick to bilaterals, but that is not the way out, he said.

The professor warned against the use of threatening gestures by developed countries and said that instead they should work towards forging a consensus for reaching the ultimate goal of freeing the movement of goods, services, factors and technology from policy-created barriers.

This news can also be read at following URL:
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1823641.cms

Itís time for Lamy to Wear Dunkelís Hat

July 27, 2006, Thesynergyonline News Service
New Delhi, India

"HISTORY repeats itself is a cliché, but we should learn from the Uruguay Round negotiations and continue our strive towards liberalising the multilateral trading system," said Pradeep Mehta, the head of CUTS International while releasing a statement on the recent collapse of WTO talks. Incidentally, in 1990 the Uruguay Round talks were collapsed because of differences between EU and US over farm liberalisation. The then head of GATT, Arthur Dunkel then came forward and produced a forward-looking text, which was known as the Dunkel Draft. It is time that the present head of the WTO, Pascal Lamy take a similar step, Mehta said.

However, Lamy's job will be much more difficult than Dunkel's. A greater number of players are now involved with negotiations, as stakes are much higher than in early 90s. Issues are more complex. In the words of Lamy: "The United States must offer deeper cuts in its farm subsidies, the European Union must further drop barriers to farm goods' imports and the big developing countries must agree to open up their markets for industrial goods."

On the last point, India is insisting that distortions in farm trade should be removed first before any move on other fronts. India has blamed the US for the current round of impasse and predicted that it will take months and years to put the Doha Round of negotiations back on track.

"A no-deal is certainly better than a bad-deal, but we should keep in mind pitfalls of a failure of Doha negotiations and act on several fronts," Mehta argued. A likely pitfall could be that trade disputes (on account of trade remedial measures and otherwise) will increase and developing countries may be at a receiving end. Secondly, there may be increasing use of non-tariff measures with significant negative implications on the livelihoods of the poor.

Indian trade minister, Kamal Nath has rightly hinted that the focus of trade liberalisation will now shift to bilateral and regional agreements. Such preferential trading arrangements can be used as building blocs for trade liberalisation, but unless appropriate safeguards are taken they may not be as beneficial as one would like to think. India is about to start discussions with the European Union for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement.

On the other hand, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has unilaterally suspended its negotiations with India on a free trade agreement, citing that India is refusing to open up its market for those products, which are important for ASEAN countries.

This news can also be read at following URL:
http://thesynergyonline.com/general.htm

Consumer Body Against Bouquets Under CAS

July 24, 2006, Business Standard
New Delhi, India

Bundling of TV channels in bouquets should be banned in the CAS regime, and every channel should carry a maximum retail price, consumer organization Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) has said.

“By introducing the concept of bouquet, we are moving away from the very rationale of introducing CAS, which seeks to provide consumers with a tool to choose individual channels”, CUTS said. It said the introducing of bouquet system will result in several complexities.

“ First, the maximum allowable discount has to be determined to ensure that bundling of channels through bouquets does not nullify the individual choice,” CUTS said. In such a scenario, broadcast regulator TRAI would need to determine an “acceptable” maximum allowable discount, it added.

On July 20, Delhi High Court had directed the Centre to implement CAS in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai before December 31. “ To avoid any unrealistic fixing of individual price of popular pay channels, there should be a maximum retail price for pay channels and price should be determined on the basis of a channel’s carriage cost.” CUTS said in a statement.

CAS Yes, But With No Bouquets: CUTS International

July 22, 2006, Western Times
Ahmedabad, India

In view of the Delhi High Court Order to implement CAS on or before 1 January, 2007, CUTS International has stated that to ensure success of CAS this time, bouquets should be banned and there should be a maximum retail price for pay channels.

The Delhi High Court’s order has set the ball rolling for implementation of CAS on or before 1 January 2007 in the three metros of Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi thus giving the consumers in the three metros the option to choose the pay channel they want to watch.

One of the intended benefits of CAS is that consumer is able to choose channels of his/her choice. In order to ensure this, TRAI has been gearing to regulate the maximum allowable discount on a bouquet of channels to ensure that the price of an individual channel vis-à-vis bouquet of channel does not nullify the choice of individual channels. This was one of the key factors for failure of CAS the last time, as a-la-carte channels were priced against bouquets in such a manner that consumers did not have a real option to choose pay channels on a-la-carte basis.

By introducing the concept of bouquet, we are moving away from the very rationale for introducing CAS, which seeks to provide consumers a tool to choose individual channels. Further, the introduction of bouquet brings along with it several complexities, a press statement issued by CUTS states.

First, the maximum allowable discount has to be determined to ensure that bundling of channels through bouquets does not nullify the individual choice (Here again, the focus is on protecting individual choice). This would require great amount of efforts on the part of TRAI to determine an ‘acceptable’ maximum allowable discount.

Another complexity that would arise, when a broadcaster includes a popular channel in various bouquets and chooses one of these bouquets as the reference bouquet for ensuring that it is complying with the regulation on maximum allowable discount.

This way, the broadcaster would be able to fix a higher price for a popular channel by selecting a reference bouquet that allows it to do so. This would nullify the regulation on maximum allowable discount. For these reasons, forming of bouquets should not be permitted.

To avoid any unrealistic fixing of individual price of popular pay channels, there should be a maximum retail price for pay channels and price should be determined on the basis of a channel’s carriage cost, observed the press statement.

This news can also be read at following URL:
http://www.westerntimes.co.in/22_en.pdf

This news can also be read at following URL:
http://thesynergyonline.com/general.htm

CUTS suggests three pronged strategy to salvage Doha Round

July 14, 2006, Thesynergyonline News Service
New Delhi, India

SUGGESTING a three pronged strategy to carry forward development thrust of the Doha Round of global trade talks, CUTS International has asserted that the burden of leadership remains on the developed nations who have more to give.

It is imperative for nations across the globe to ensure that the Doha Round is not declared sick so as to avoid another 9/11 and the onus for this lies on the developed nations who can actually deliver the Doha Round by being less mercantile and ensure that the poor are lifted out of their poverty through liberalization of trade and cutting out of farm subsidies in the rich world, which mainly benefit the fat corporates, Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International said today.

Pascal Lamy should cajole heads of governments of key countries to move and spell out their bottom lines to him. In the dog-eat-dog world of trade negotiations in Geneva, ministers could not have spelt out what their countries can do at the maximum because, often offers made by ministers/delegations can become binding with other parties then wanting more than what has been offered, Mr Mehta suggested.

The Director General should also address the issue of high protection which is given to farmers in developed countries and how it affects the farmers in the poor countries.

Alternately, since the fundamental issues of agriculture, NAMA and services cannot be settled, WTO Members should consider what can be agreed upon. The controversial issues can be left on the back burner and it is time to turn the Hong Kong declaration on its head and straighten out negotiations in other areas, such as WTO rules, TRIPs, trade and the environment, trade facilitation, aid for trade and the Integrated Framework, all of which are crucial for developing countries and have been unaddressed during negotiations, Mehta suggested.

Addressing the archaic customs procedures should be the centre piece of the final Doha deal. It is not important as to what is traded but how it is traded is important, Pradeep Mehta said.

This news can also be read at following URL:
http://thesynergyonline.com/general.htm

The same news can also be read at following URL:
http://westerntimes.co.in/14_en.pdf

Deliberations on Doha Round talks essential

July 3, 2006, The Rising Nepal
Lalitpur, Nepal

A two-day regional level meeting on "South Asia and the World Trade Organisation Doha Round Negotiations" opened here Sunday.

The meeting organised by South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) is being attended by more than 70 participants from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka & Pakistan.

Speaking at the inaugural session, Navin Dahal, executive director of SAWTEE, welcomed the participants and highlighted the objectives of the meeting. Dahal said that the meeting held greater importance in context of WTO members' failure to agree on important issues of the Doha Round negotiations.

Dr. Shankar Sharma, former vice chairman of the National Planning Commission, said that the least developed countries like Nepal could create additional opportunities and advantages from the WTO if regional integration were duly managed and secured. He added that issues raised at the ministerial level meetings in Doha needed reassessment and a big push.

Amir Khosru Chaudhary, former commerce minister of Bangladesh, highlighted the importance of Aid for Trade for South Asian countries.

Pradeep Mehta, chairperson for the session and also chairperson of the SAWTEE Advisory Board, said that discussion of constraints at the regional level and the WTO forum would help resolve the major issues hindering South Asian common position in WTO negotiations.

The meeting will discuss common issues like agriculture, development dimension, services, non-agricultural market access and others affecting South Asia.

This news can also be read at following URL:
http://www.gorkhapatra.org.np/content.php?nid=3468

CONTACT US
Consumer Unity & Trust Society
DĖ217, Bhaskar Marg, Bani Park, 
Jaipur  302 016, India,
Ph: +91(0)141-2282821
Fax: 91.141.2282485
Email: cuts@cuts.org

Copyright 2005 Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS), All rights reserved.
DĖ217, Bhaskar Marg, Bani Park, Jaipur 302 016, Rajasthan, India
Ph: 91.141.2282821, Fax: 91.141.2282485

Top

Top