"The scale of the development challenge facing us is daunting and the United Nations needs, more than ever before, to focus on where it can actually make a difference," Nirupam Sen, India's permanent representative at the UN, said Tuesday.
Participating in a UN General Assembly committee debate on international trade and development, he said the world body has a central role in the promotion of development and needed a clear political direction to break the current impasse.
On its part, India is actively and constructively participating in negotiations on the Doha Work Programme in the expectation that they will fully address the concerns of developing countries.
"We are meeting at a time when the actions of the global development community are being closely scrutinised against the promises that we have collectively made and repeated often," he said.
Expressing disappointment at the impasse in WTO trade negotiations, he said: "Early resumption is desirable but adherence to the existing mandate - that of the Doha Ministerial Declaration, the July Framework Agreement and the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration - is imperative."
The international trading system is full of inequities - no real reductions in agricultural subsidies by the developed countries has taken place, while "real" market access in products of export interest to developing countries remains impeded by tariff peaks, escalations, specific duties, and non-tariff barriers; discouraging industrialisation in the developing countries, he noted.
Sen said India welcomed the 'Aid for Trade' initiative as a means of enhancing the capacity of developing countries to realise the gains of trade, but it cannot be a substitute for the expected development benefits from a successful conclusion of the Doha Round.
Noting that non-tariff barriers were costing the developing countries over $100 billion, almost twice the current level of Official Development Assistance, he agreed with the Secretary-General that such aid must be additional to current development assistance and be secure, predictable and non-debt creating.
Food security and rural livelihood are of immense economic relevance and have a socio-political dimension in many developing countries, he said noting the anticipated gains from agricultural reform by developed countries have till now eluded the developing countries.
"Minimising the vulnerabilities of the poor farmers must be our collective priority. Demanding market access from developing countries, which displace low-income and subsistence farmers to satisfy commercial interests, cannot be supported," Sen said.
Proportionately lower overall tariff reduction commitments and operable and effective development instruments of special products and special safeguard mechanism are the essential components of securing food security, livelihood security and rural development needs of developing countries, he said underlining the position of developing countries.
Turning to the non-agricultural sector, Sen said liberalisation of trade in non-agricultural products could lead to shifts in output and employment in key sectors in developing countries, resulting in job and revenue loss for many of them.
"It is, therefore, particularly important for developing countries to protect sensitive tariff lines in the small scale and employment intensive sectors of the economy and to preserve the autonomous liberalisation programme," he said.
Referring to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, Sen said in the recent past, attempts have been made to misappropriate developing countries' traditional knowledge for commercial gain, denying, in the process, the value that justly should be reaped by their communities.
Developing countries have therefore sought amendments in the TRIPS Agreement to prevent piracy of biological material and misappropriation of traditional knowledge, he said.
Noting that the secretary-general's report has highlighted that welfare gains from liberalising the temporary movement of natural persons are in the range of $150 billion to $250 billion, Sen sought effective and commercially meaningful access for developing countries' services suppliers.
"It could be a win-win situation; restricting the movement of professionals across the world is unnatural and, ultimately, to the detriment of developed countries themselves," he said.