ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Clueless in Geneva

THE government's response to the separate but obviously orchestrated complaints filed by the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia under the disputes settlement procedure of the World Trade Organisation requiring India to negotiate a more rapid dismantling of its quantitative restrictions on imports has been typical to bury its head in the sand and pretend that everything is ail right. In this regard it would be difficult to improve upon what commerce minister B B Ramaiah had to say: "Nothing is going to happen. We can handle the situation. We have handled difficult issues before acceding to the WTO agreement...and have succeeded in protecting India's interests.'' For good measure he added: "Many countries particularly in the European Union arc sympathetic towards India and will support us." The minister could hardly have given a better exhibition of how ignorant and poorly-briefed he was. For, the very next day, the European Union presented, as it was widely expected to do, its own formal request to the WTO for urgent consultations on the phasing out of India's import restrictions under the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism. The EU has been, if anything, harsher than the US in admonishing India for refusing to read "the signals emanating from the negotiations at Geneva" and has warned of punitive sanctions if India failed to improve upon its offer in the fresh round of talks.

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