US disappointed over India's stance in WTO

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The US today expressed disappointment over India's stand on worldwide reform of trade facilitation rules saying "backsliding" on commitments has brought the WTO to the brink of crisis.

At the meeting of the 160-member World Trade Organisation in Geneva yesterday, India demanded a halt to the trade facilitation (TF) timetable till a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security is found.

The meeting was to finalise a deal on TF that was agreed at talks in Bali last December in the WTO's first ever global trade agreement.

Without directly identifying India, the United States expressed its deep disappointment over lack of progress on the TF agreement.

"We are deeply disappointed that backsliding on Trade Facilitation has brought the WTO to the brink of crisis," the US Trade Representative, Mike Froman, said.

India's stand at the WTO was supported by Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia.

"The current state of play on Trade Facilitation threatens to deal a serious blow to the credibility of the multilateral trading system and to set back the development needs of many countries around the world," Froman said.

Alysa Ayers, a former India hand at the State Department during the Obama Administration, told PTI that she is quite worried about what India's new position on the trade facilitation deal signals about India's direction on trade.

The issue, if not resolved by early next week, has the potential to cast a shadow on a planned visit to New Delhi by US Secretary of State John Kerry, which begins on July 30, observers say.

The Obama Administration refused to comment on the possible impact of India's stand at WTO on the India US relationship. However it is expected to figure prominently during the next week's India US Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi.

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