India is seriously and sincerely engaged in negotiations and continues to hope for positive and balanced outcome from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference at Bali next week that will be acceptable to the developing and least developed countries, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said here on Friday.

“India is spearheading the G33’s proposal on agricultural subsidies which seeks from Bali outcome that will correct the WTO agriculture subsidy norms that are at present unfairly loaded in favour of some countries as they contains inherent imbalances,” Mr. Sharma said addressing a press conference.

Minimum support price

The Cabinet unanimously agreed on Thursday, according to the Minister, that India will not agree to a deal at Bali without a reassurance that the proposed Peace Clause, an interim safeguard for India’s minimum support price (MSP) in breach of the WTO caps, will expire only when permanent safeguards are found and agreed to. This will ensure that the MSPs will not be in breach. The G33 is arguing that a major factor for the sharp rise in MSP is the recent spurt in global food price inflation while the existing caps and formulas are calibrated to food prices in the 1980s.

“We are arguing either use a more recent base year for arriving at the caps or use an appropriate deflator for removing the impact of inflation on our administered support prices,” Mr. Sharma said adding that MSPs in India had risen manifold over the last few years and could rise further with the implementation of the recently enacted Food Security Law.

“The developing countries are persisting for a correction of the historical injustices and unfair outcomes of the Uruguay Round in 1994 where the developed countries ensured coverage and protection of very high subsidies for their agriculture producers,” Mr. Sharma said.

“Still negotiating”

“India endorses the settled draft for Bali on two of the five themes for the package but is still negotiating on the proposals on the release of bank guarantees, expedited shipments of courier services and the provision on penalties. Indian law does not allow upfront duty calculations for plants, animals and gems and jewellery shipped in through air courier services,” he said.

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