* India sees accommodation in final lap
* Rejects preconditions, calls to reopen what is settled
By Jonathan Lynn
GENEVA, Oct 20 India's trade chief added his
voice on Wednesday to comments that the long-stalled Doha talks
to free up world trade are again showing signs of life.
But Trade Minister Anand Sharma said India would not reopen
what had been agreed, and any deal must help developing
countries by making farm trade fairer -- apparently rejecting
U.S. calls for a shake-up of what is on the table so far.
Sharma was speaking after a visit to assess the state of the
negotiations in Geneva, where ambassadors at the World Trade
Organization have been brainstorming in small groups in recent
weeks to seek new areas of agreement in the deadlocked talks.
"We are very happy that there has been some progress, where
in addition to processes the substance is being discussed,"
Sharma told a news conference.
He said he could see a shared interest in bringing the talks
to a conclusion to help boost the world economy. [ID:nLDE69I1KQ]
He said there was now an expectation that leaders of the G20
would provide a clear declaration of political intent at their
summit in Seoul next month about the need to reach a deal.
The talks were launched in late 2001 to free up global
commerce and help poor countries prosper through trade, but have
been deadlocked for over two years, largely on differences
between the United States and big emerging economies like India,
China and Brazil over the extent they should open up.
Sharma said the past nine years of talks had achieved a
balance between agriculture and industrial goods.
That runs counter to calls from Washington for richer
developing countries to do more to open up their markets for
industrial goods in return for the cuts in trade-distorting farm
subsidies that the United States is expected to make.
In particular, the United States wants the big emerging
economies to promise now to sign up to agreements eliminating
duties in certain sectors such as chemicals in addition to any
general cuts in industrial tariffs they agree to.
Sharma said these sectoral deals were voluntary and
countries would only decide which ones to sign up to once the
WTO's 153 members had reached an outline deal on the Doha talks.
However, he hinted New Delhi would be prepared to make
concessions on sectoral deals and other issues once ministers
get into the final negotiations.
"In a spirit of accommodation there will be very clear and
specific understandings which will happen when the end-game is
announced," he said.
(Editing by Janet Lawrence)