India began hosting the first G-20 meeting yesterday after preparing a paper articulating the developing countries' stand for the on-going WTO negotiations, including the contentious agricultural issues.
The two-day meeting beginning in New Delhi on March 18 will also take stock of the state of play in the negotiations in Geneva, since the WTO framework agreement was signed in July last year.
"We should not allow a few (developed) countries to arrogate themselves to set the rules for multilateral trade," Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said, adding the G-20, though a diverse grouping, will formulate strategies to ensure level-playing field for developing countries.
The meeting assumes significance, as it would look at critical areas like formula for tariffs reduction in agriculture and the special and sensitive products that needed to be pushed in WTO negotiations.
It would also look at an end date for export subsidies, which resulted in artificial prices of farm products of developed countries denying market access to developing countries.
"As per an Oxfam study, six European countries' farm producers were given one billion dollar subsidy in 2003 so that their products could be dumped in world markets because of artificially low prices," Nath said.
He also cited a Minnesota (USA) study, which showed that in 2003, American wheat was exported at 28 per cent below the average cost of production. The corresponding figures for corn and soyabean, cotton, and rice were 10 per cent, 47 per cent and 26 per cent respectively.