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Doubts surface over India's Modi after trade deal scuppered

Published on Aug 2, 2014 12:22 AM
Traders sit amidst stacked sacks filled with onions and potatoes at a wholesale vegetable market in Ahmedabad. A World Trade Organisation pact to ease worldwide customs rules collapsed late on Thursday over India's demands for concessions on agricultural stockpiling. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to office with a reputation as a business-friendly leader ready to open up one of the world's biggest markets and sweep away the remnants of the country's socialist past.

Now potential investors, some of them foreign firms hoping to exploit new opportunities in India's vast consumer market, are scratching their heads after Mr Modi's party walked away from a major deal to reform customs rules and make global trade easier.

India shocked trade officials by rejecting the agreement at the 160-member World Trade Organization (WTO), one of the group's biggest initiatives since it was set up 19 years ago.

New Delhi has since said it did not believe the pact was dead, but insisted that, alongside the so-called trade facilitation agreement, the WTO must find a deal allowing India to subsidise and stockpile food in order to protect the poor.

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