Senior trade officials in India say they will strongly oppose the launch of a new round of trade liberalisation talks at the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) meeting next week unless the US and the EU address "unresolved issues" from the previous round.

The warning, which comes just a week before the WTO meeting in Doha, Qatar, follows claims that many of the world's developed countries had failed to fulfil their obligations under the Uruguay world trade round six years ago.

India's Trade Minister, Murasoli Maran, the trade minister, said these "implementation issues" included acceleration of the lifting of quota restrictions on textile exports from developing countries and relaxing patent restrictions on drugs in the event of health epidemics.

He added that the EU had ignored the concerns of developing countries by implementing the environment, competition policy and investment rules in the draft declaration for the planned launch of a new round on November 9.

"It is clear that unless our concerns are taken up, the credibility and reputation of the WTO, which is already at an all-time low, will be even further damaged," Mr Maran said. "Economically, politically and socially, it may not be feasible for India to go to a new trade round."

His views were echoed by Amit Mitra, secretary-general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce, who said: "All that India is suggesting is that we deal with the big unresolved issues of the Uruguay round before moving on to a new agenda."


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