India will present its case on its new food security legislation at the 40th ministerial conference of the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome next week.

Some WTO member-countries had questioned whether India’s stockholding to support 67 per cent of its population with subsidised food grains will distort international trade and impact the world stocks of grains.

Minister of State for Food K.V. Thomas will make the presentation in Rome.

He will also have meetings with FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva and Executive Director the World Food programme Ertharin Cousin.

As preparations are on for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference at Bali in December, U.S. Trade representative Michael Froman, in the keynote address at the WTO Public Forum on October 1, said that “we support food security round the world but if countries are going to take new steps in this area, we call on them to do so in a transparent manner and without distorting the global market in a way that could create food insecurity for farmers and consumers in other countries.”

During working sessions last month, the U.S., Canada and Pakistan sought information about India holding wheat and rice stocks which, they said, could depress prices and affect their exports.

Stockholding

Concerns were also raised about stockholding of rice in Thailand, soybeans and other products in Indonesia and cotton in China.

India was asked about its food law, including its target purchase quantities of grains to meet the commitment under the Act and the effect on markets.

India supports the G-33 proposal that wants subsidies, which are a part of the procurement of grains for public stockholding for poor and marginal farmers, to not be regarded as a prohibited subsidy by the WTO.

The Agreement on Agriculture allows “market distorting subsidies” up to a limit of 10 per cent of the total production. Some of the developing countries are demanding that this limit be raised.

The G-33 proposal’s stated objective is food security. Buying grains at government administered prices with the objective of stocking it for food security purposes or distributing it as food aid should not be taken as a trade-distorting support, the proposal says.

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