17 August : Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has rejected a suggestion that India should step out of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) because of high agricultural subsidies in the developed countries.
"The question of agricultural subsidies has prompted some people to suggest that India should step out of the WTO. Such a step would be self-defeating. We would be singled out and left without support," Pawar said in his recent book ‘Fast Forward’.
The book incorporating a lengthy interview with Pawar was released immediately after collapse of the Doha trade talks last month in Geneva where India and US were deadlocked in an issue concerning safeguards to farmers in the developing countries.
Pawar said India cannot afford to leave the world market as it has already taken a lead position in the manufacture of many products like textiles, medicines, milk products, engineering and sugar.
He said while agricultural subsidies were supported by most of the leading nations, their number has dwindled." This implies that over the next four to five years subsidies would definitely be on their way out," he said.
India with high labour power would be able to "excel" in global competition once the agricultural subsidies are done away with, Pawar The Agriculture Minister in his book underscored the importance of world market for Indian farm products like sugar.
"Unless we have access to the world market our produce will not be sold. How will our domestic producers survive then?" he asked.
Pawar said if a country wants to access the global market it also has to adhere to global rules, adding that India should also be prepared to provide market to others.
"If we want the outside world to open their doors to our exports, we too would have to reciprocate by allowing their products free access to our domestic markets," he said.
Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath also said on Thursday that the WTO was important for India with its growing global engagement."Ruled-based multilateral system is very important for everybody, including India… more so important for India because we are engaging more (with the world)," Nath said.
India’s external trade in merchandise goods alone is expected to be over USD 500 billion in 2008-09. DDINEWS