U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday that India’s refusal to sign a global trade deal sent the wrong signal, and he urged New Delhi to work to resolve the row as soon as possible.
A World Trade Organisation pact to ease worldwide customs rules collapsed late on Thursday over India’s demands for concessions on agricultural stockpiling.
“Failure to sign the Trade Facilitation Agreement sent a confusing signal and undermined the very image Prime Minister Modi is trying to send about India,” a U.S. State Department official told reporters after Kerry’s meeting with Modi.
Kerry was in New Delhi as part of an annual strategic dialogue to revitalise ties and lay the ground for a visit by Modi to Washington in December.
The official said the meeting was “strong and positive” despite the breakdown at the trade talks in Geneva.
Several WTO member states voiced frustration after India’s demands led to the collapse of the first major global trade reform pact in two decades. WTO ministers had already agreed the global reform of customs procedures known as “trade facilitation” in Bali, Indonesia, last December, but were unable to overcome last minute Indian objections and get it into the WTO rule book by a July 31 deadline.
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