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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 15:30 GMT
India's reaction to Doha talks mixed
Man addressing rally
Anti-WTO rallies drew large crowds
By the BBC's Jyotsna Singh in Delhi

The outcome of World Trade talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, has provoked mixed reactions in India.

A government statement says the country has made significant gains in highlighting concerns of the developing world.

Negotiations were thrust upon poorer nations

V. P. Singh
But the pro-left opposition describes India's performance as "extremely disappointing".

India had strongly resisted the launch of a new round of talks saying commitments made erlier should first be met to ensure better market share for developing nations.

A government statement on Thursday said India "succeeded in warding off any commitments for negotiations in the important areas of investment, competition policy and transparency in government procurement".

Modest success

The statement said the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) final declaration on liberalising global trade "took on board" India's concerns for poorer nations.

It said Delhi had won a victory by getting a commitment from developed countries to phase out export subsidies.

Indian industry, too, welcomed the outcome of the negotiations.

A spokesman for the Confederation of Indian Industries (CBI) said "on important issues related to agriculture, implementation and trade-related intellectual property issues, all concerns have been met".

Indian protester at Doha
Patent issues aroused passions in Doha
One major gain is thought to be the inclusion of a clause which allows poorer countries continued access to cheaper drugs.

But a grouping of various political parties and non-government organisations - the Indian People's campaign against WTO - alleges that despite initial resistance, Delhi's action amounted to nothing.

Sell-out alleged

The group alleges that in the end, the government succumbed to the pressures of the developed world.

The convener of the campaign, former Prime Minister V P Singh, says the talks in Doha have once again reinforced fears that the WTO is incapable of upholding democratic norms.

He said the negotiations have been thrust upon the poorer nations, without giving them a chance to debate and discuss these in their national parliaments.

Mr Singh warned that such a situation threatened to engulf not just trade but the entire domestic economy of the developing world.

Anti-WTO campaigners say they will launch nation-wide agitation to make people aware of how, as they put it, the government was compromising their rights under pressure from richer nations.

A senior leader of the Communist Party of India, A B Bardhan, said the issue would be raised prominently in the next session of Parliament which begins on Monday.

Observers say WTO issues are likely to dominate the agenda of the pro-left opposition in India ahead of crucial elections in three politically important northern states, due early next year.

See also:

26 Oct 01 | Business
India sceptical on WTO agenda
31 Mar 00 | South Asia
India eases trade restrictions
22 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
China and India sign trade deal
17 Mar 00 | South Asia
Indian markets fear reform reversal
22 Oct 99 | South Asia
Analysis: Upping the pace of reform
23 Feb 00 | South Asia
'Tough measures' needed for India
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