South Asia Monitor: The WTO and BEYOND - November 19, 1999
November 19, 1999
In the trade negotiations that should follow this month's World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting, the United States hopes to complete the Uruguay Round's drive to unify international trade rules and to extend trade liberalization to new service and high-tech sectors. India's formal position is exactly the opposite: to reinvigorate special protections for developing countries. The Indian position, however, overlaps with the U.S. view in at least two sensitive areas -- eliminating agricultural export subsidies and liberalizing information technology (IT) trade. Given India's increasing economic dependence on a range of cutting-edge sectors, a pragmatic approach will probably win out, although there may be an extended period of fairly sterile debate before this happens. Other countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) are paying much less attention to the upcoming WTO meeting, with the exception of Bangladesh, which is looking for support for preserving beyond 2005 the textile quota regime from which its industry has benefited.