20 October, 2020

It's A Big World Out There

India has always dithered — and then forced to sign — on any WTO pact. We've to regain our leadership position.

Madhu Kapparath
It's A Big World Out There
When India signed the Geneva framework accord to move the Doha negotiations forward last summer, Union commerce minister Kamal Nath was not denounced by the domestic or foreign press for his negativism, as had been the case with his predecessor Murasoli Maran in 2001, immediately following the launch of the Doha Round. On the contrary, none other than his cabinet colleague Sharad Pawar accused Nath of a "sellout". This, no doubt, is progress: Indian leadership is slowly but surely shedding its defensive posture and emerging as a more confident participant to the WTO negotiations.

Even as India was moving from near autarky in the mid-1980s to an open trading system, its trading partners and the Western press were branding it as "obstructionist" in the global trade talks. No doubt, in part this vilification was the result of the independent stand India took in the successive rounds of negotiations, in contrast to its Latin American counterparts that, with the exception of Brazil, could ill-afford to stand up to their powerful northern neighbour. Branding a non-compliant...


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