Food security subsidies are in danger

Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher has said that India is eager to find permanent protection for its food subsidies from WTO caps.

The nation registered its annoyance at the unbalanced progress in the execution of the Bali Declaration at the Trade Ministers Meet in Paris in May, the WTO General Council Meet in Geneva in June and the Committee of Agriculture last week. In December 2013, the WTO Ministers adopted the declaration that proposed to revive the Doha Developm-ent Agenda and find perma-nent protection for the minimum support prices.

India has found support in Africa’s Least Developed Countries as “the fear is that the developed countries will harvest the Trade Facilitation agreement and run away,” the sources said. Brazil and China could rally behind India, as their food security subsidies are in danger of breaching the WTO limits too.

Following the rollout of the Food Security Act, India’s administered mini-mum support prices for foodgrains procurement run the risk of breaching the permissible subsidy levels under the WTO’s existing Agreement on Agriculture. As a developing country, the de minimis provisions entitle India to provide 10 per cent of the total value of production of a basic agric-ultural product as product-specific price support and 10 per cent of the total value of agricultural production as non-product-specific support.

Subsidies and support prices in excess of the cap are seen as trade-distorting, against which other WTO countries can initiate legal action.

Keywords: BRICSfood subsidiesWTO