Jul 14, 2008

Nath May Not Arrive In Geneva Until 23 July

In a move that could ruin the WTO Ministerial Indian Commerce Minister Nath is now reported to be planning to stay in New Delhi until 22 July. This is bad news

Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, who is scheduled to leave for Geneva on July 19 for crucial WTO talks, is likely to delay his departure till July 22 when the UPA government seeks confidence vote in Parliament. The World Trade Organisation is convening the Ministerial Meeting between July 21 and July 24 of key trade ministers who would get involved in hard negotiations for reaching a blueprint of an agreement on the much-delayed Doha Round. Nath, a Lok Sabha MP from Chindwara in Madhya Pradesh, not only has a crucial vote in the lower house but is also an ace strategist for the Congress Party, which is reaching out to several small parties and independent MPs for support on the nuclear deal. While the Commerce Minister has taken approval of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to remain outside the country between July 19 and July 24, he would be required to stay back home for the trust vote. "In this scenario, the Minister will designate Commerce Secretary G K Pillai to participate in the negotiations on his behalf," an official said.