July 27, 2005, The Hindu

Issues in the agenda of World Trade Organisation (WTO) are prompted by the selfish motives of rich and developed nations like the European Union (EU) and the United States of America, said K.R. Chowdary, president of th Indian Rural Development Contress.

Addressing an awareness meet on the WTO, organised by members of the Consumer Guidance Society here on Sunday, Mr. Chowdary said the WTO established in 1995 after seven years of negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), was grossly biased in favour of developed nations.

Changing tone
With the establishment of the WTO, it was found that the negotiations of the last round were different from the earlier ones. Speaking about the WTO’s impact on the agriculture sector, Mr. Chowdary said it was thrown into a shambles, thanks to factors that were detrimental to farmers and the Government showed scant regard for their welfare.

Referring to the controversial Dunkel’s Draft, he said it was unfortunate that in a democracy like India, no discussion had taken place either on Dunkel’s proposals or the WTO. While nearly 30 African nations walked out without signing the draft after realising that it was detrimental to the interests of their respective nations, the Government of India went ahead and signed it, he pointed out.

Mr. Chowdary pointed out that heavy import cess was being levied by developed countries on goods exported by developing countries. “The flawed policies of the Government has ruined the agriculture sector,” he lamented.

The director of the Rural Resources Group, Centre for Good Governance, V.K. Parigi, spoke about the different views prevailing on the WTO. “Some oppose, some favour, while some others are proactive. It is for us to enter or make an exit out of the agreement. A defensive mechanism should be developed and we must make the best of our negotiating skills,” he felt.

Positive signs
Pointing out that the concerns of the developing nations were recognised for the first time at the recent round of WTO talks at Doha, Mr. Parigi called it a ‘big achievement’.

The secretary of the CGC, Diwakar Babu explained about the various aspects related to WTO.

The CGS had also organised a debate on ‘Pro-poor economic reforms’, where leaders of different political parties had stressed the need for giving more thrust to poverty alleviation.