|Cancun Agenda on Market Access: A Reality Check|
|ICRIER and FICCI jointly organised a one-day seminar on ‘Cancun Agenda on Market Access: A Reality Check’ on August 29, 2003. In his inaugural address, Mr. S. N. Menon, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, stated that countries like India with a huge population dependent on agriculture were not willing to accept the developed countries’ position on tariff reduction without a reciprocal reduction in subsidies and that the joint framework on agriculture submitted by the US and European Union was an unfair document, as it did not reflect the ambitions of the developed and developing countries. On services, Mr. Menon stated that India was keen on offshore operations through electronic means and movement of natural persons.
The deliberations mainly focused on the three core areas of non-agricultural market access, agriculture, and services with emphasis on the impending Cancun negotiations. Concern was expressed by all speakers on the low level of ambition in the US-EC proposals with regard to reduction/elimination of subsidies in the negotiations on agriculture. It was felt that for the Doha Round negotiations to succeed, it was imperative that the major industrialised countries agreed on the elimination of export subsidies and on deep reduction of domestic support. The speakers welcomed the proposal for taking the tariff average into account in the formula for reduction of non-agricultural tariffs. While concern was expressed on the proposal for sectoral elimination of tariffs in automobile components it was also felt that elimination of tariffs on textiles would provide a big opportunity for India. On services, the speakers stated that India has tremendous trade potential and should therefore actively participate in the GATS 2000 negotiations and push for removal of market access barriers in Modes 1 and 4 in markets of export interest. Eminent policy makers, policy advisors, academics, and senior officials from the WTO, World Bank, and Ministry of Commerce attended the seminar.