Not only does WTD have to worry about being right most of the time on what is happening behind closed doors at the World Trade Organization, but we have to contend with accusations from Deputy US Trade Representative Michael Punke in Geneva that we constantly side with the Indian point of view about almost everything that happens there.
Why does USTR make that assumption? Could it be that our correspondent in Geneva is named Ravi and is a citizen of India?
This accusation was again raised last week about a story we carried on negotiations regarding streamlined accession for least developed countries to the WTO. We were told a particular story was written from India’s point of view and failed to reflect the US position. In addition it was totally wrong, we were told.
Hold your horses Mr. Punke – himself a resident of the wild West state of Montana and a transplant from his native Wyoming via Washington, D.C.
While we never reveal our sources unless spelled out in our stories, our reporter did not get his information from Indian sources. Rather it came from a highly-placed and credible least- developed country negotiator who has been integrally involved in the sometimes testy discussions.
So upset was the deputy USTR about our story that the next day he told his fellow negotiators in a closed-door meeting that he wanted no information to leave the room, specifically saying he didn’t want WTD to know anything about what was being discussed.
Coincidentally, at the very moment that the Deputy US Trade Representative was giving out his command, a senior LDC negotiator was on his cell phone chatting with none other than WTD’s Ravi Kanth. The negotiator, being a forthright fellow, immediately announced to Mr. Punke whom he was talking to.
Mr. Punke, according to our sources in the room, immediately assured the negotiator that he was not pointing a finger at him – but at someone else he knew to be spilling the beans to WTD.
But USTR, indeed, is pointing a finger – at the Indian delegation they assume is feeding us information. They are not.
Maybe it’s the old story of the cowboys versus Indians.