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January 10, 2000
India urges Third World to resist WTO's gameplan
India's Industry and Commerce Minister Murasoli Maran has urged the Third World to come together to jointly resist the World Trade Organisation's attempts to weaken developing countries' competitiveness by threatening sanctions.
The minister deplored attempts by the developed countries to "link labour and environmental standards to the ministerial negotiations."
Maran addressed the Partnership Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi today. The summit is being attended by business bigwigs from across the globe.
"The WTO cannot be allowed to become another world government. We cannot allow ourselves to be threatened by sanctions and forced to reduce our competitive advantage. We have to resist such attempts," said Maran.
Maran called for a recast of theWTO and urged the latter not to ignore "fears, anxiety and insecurity" of the developing nations. "The WTO should be confined to trade issues -- and trade issues only," said Maran.
"If developing countries are to be part of the world economy, we should be given enough opportunity to prepare for it," he said. "Special and preferential treatment was offered to us in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, but it is not to be seen in the current world trade structure," said Maran.
India's stance is that developing countries have not fulfilled commitments under the previous Uruguay Round. India said as much at Seattle in November 1999 during the WTO ministerial summit. Developing nations including India opposed discussions on social, environmental and other non-trade issues at Seattle.
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