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Economics minister: WTO members should curb ambitions to come to terms

December 04, 2013, 17:42 UTC+3 4
He added that Russia, having spent 17 years on efforts to join the WTO, finally came to understand how difficult negotiating process in that organization was
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Russian Minister of Economic Development Aleksey Ulyukaev

Russian Minister of Economic Development Aleksey Ulyukaev

© ITAR-TASS/Alexei Nikolsky

BALI, December 4. /ITAR-TASS/. To adopt the Bali package of agreements the WTO member states need to curb their ambitions, Russian Minister of Economic Development Aleksey Ulyukaev told the plenary meeting of the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade organization (WTO).

The current Ministerial Conference is to approve the so called Bali package of agreements for facilitating world trade in three key areas: an accord to equalize support for agricultural producers in the WTO states; agreement to streamline customs procedures; and a package of initiatives to bolster developing countries. The signing of a legally binding agreement is under threat, mainly because of India’s demand for exemptions regarding the degree of support for its agriculture.

He added that Russia, having spent 17 years on efforts to join the WTO, finally came to understand how difficult negotiating process in that organization was.

“We know from our own experience how painful it may be to agree to something not ever used before. We know how difficult it is to change the rules when there are dozens of counter arguments,” Ulyukaev said.

He also expressed the confidence the countries “cannot afford to give up when they are so close to reaching the WTO's first-ever agreements” of this sort.

“We cannot afford to endanger and discredit the international trade system, nor should we allow to replace it with regional trade accords,” Ulyukaev added.

Ulyukaev supported the stance of Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambanga Yudhoyono and WTO Director-General Roberto Carvalho de Azevdo to the effect that the Bali package was to be completed, especially the section of agreements for trade procedures and support of agriculture saying that was the “absolute priority”.

“But there is no magical solution for that. We just need to accept clear steps to complete these talks,” and Russia was ready to do anything for that purpose, Ulyukaev said.

Later, he told journalists Russia was trying to play an active role in negotiations and act as an intermediary between the countries that disagreed, primarily over agriculture and food security.

Speaking of the ‘Indian issue’, Ulyukaev said Russia approved of the WTO compromise suggestion India might get temporary preferences and exemptions from its liabilities to limit support for its farmers. The preferences are to be effective during four years and then subjected to further consideration. However, India rejects this option altogether.

Ulyukaev said if the Bali package were signed, India would have better terms to support its farmers than now, and have freedom to act at its own discretion in the following four years.

“We think this is a compromise decision, but it remains a pending question,” Ulyukayev said.

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