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Indian minister to quit WTO talks
Cat : Poverty and Debts
Date : 2006-07-02 18:21:55                      Reader : 386
BBC 2/7/2006
Indian minister to quit WTO talks 
Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath has said he will walk out of World Trade Organisation talks early as members failed to reach agreement.
Talking to the BBC, Mr Nath said he saw "no movement" in the talks and that his staying on would make "no difference".
The trade talks are set to continue all weekend in Geneva but Mr Nath said he planned to leave on Saturday.
Agriculture was the main sticking point, he said, adding it was "hard to see how [members] could make progress".
Mr Nath said what was being offered "might be free trade but it is not fair trade".
Pending 'crisis'
The news comes at the end of the first day of WTO talks.
Pascal Lamy, WTO head
The BBC's Andrew Walker said it was hard to imagine progress being made without India, which is a key player in the talks, especially as a representative of developing nations.
The news came after Pascal Lamy, the head of the World Trade Organisation, said the talks could fail if progress was not made in the "next few hours or days".
"If we do not turn things around radically...we will be facing a crisis," said Mr Lamy.
Pressing deadline
Agriculture has long been a sticking point in the trade talks.
The EU and US clash over how far they can go to cut tariffs on agricultural imports and domestic farm subsidies, a key issue for the world's poorest countries.
At the same time Europe wants tariffs on manufactured goods to be significantly reduced and greater priority to be given to freeing up trade in services such as IT, finance and transport.
About 60 ministers present at the talks in Geneva are set with the task of resolving farm and manufacturing trade issues by Sunday.
The need to reach agreement over trade becomes ever more pressing as the deadline for the Doha round of global trade talks looms ever closer.
The talks, which started in 2001 in an attempt to benefit the world economy and also reduce poverty, have already missed a series of deadlines.
US presidential powers to negotiate trade talks come to an end in 2007.

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