On the eve of WTO ministerial meeting here, India on Monday said the interim solution on food security as currently designed is not acceptable and the country won’t compromise its farmers’ interest or succumb to mercantilist ambitions of rich nations.
There is a national consensus and complete political unanimity on this matter in India, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said, adding: “It is therefore difficult for us to accept an interim solution as it has been currently designed.
“We can no longer allow the interests of our farmers to be compromised at the altar of mercantilist ambitions of the rich. The Bali Ministerial Meeting is an opportunity for the developing countries to stay united in resolve to demonstrate the centrality of agriculture in trade talks.”
Developed countries have proposed an interim solution of four-year ‘peace clause’ during which period India would not attract penalty even if the 10 per cent cap is broken.
As per the existing Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) of the Geneva-headquartered WTO, farm subsidy has to be capped at 10 per cent of the total value of the farm production. India has raised issues regarding the way the cap value is benchmarked to the base price.
In a statement at a meeting of the G-33 in Bali on the eve of the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, Sharma said that for decades, “handful of farm lobbies of some countries” have shaped the discourse and determined the destiny of millions of subsistence farmers of the developing countries.
“The massive subsidisation of the farm sector in the developed countries is not even a subject matter of discussion, leave aside serious negotiations,” he said.
He further said that food security must be protected from all challenges in the WTO as it is not only a sensitive issue for India but also a critical social imperative.