Assuring MPs that India’s interests were safeguarded at the WTO negotiations in Bali earlier this month, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Wednesday said the Centre has not signed any binding agreements, and that the deal reached at the trade talks was not going to adversely impact India’s food security programme.
“The WTO has no jurisdiction on India’s food security or any other sovereign programmes… India has not taken any binding agreements. It [the Bali negotiations] will not affect our farmers. Our MSP [government-decided minimum support price for foodgrain] will only go up; our [foodgrain] procurement will only go up… It is our decision, nobody can tell us,” Mr. Sharma said in the Rajya Sabha while answering queries of Opposition MPs who feared that the WTO talks in Indonesia would affect India’s food security programme and hurt farmers’ interests.
Mr. Sharma noted that till a permanent solution was found, India would be protected against any challenge in the WTO under the Agreement on Agriculture regarding public stock-holding (procurement) programmes for food security purposes.
Lauding the role of Indian officials for successfully negotiating in India’s favour several crucial aspects of the deal, Mr. Sharma said at the talks, India rejected any kind of temporary arrangements. “A new agreement was needed to replace the old and imbalanced one…We have managed to address the issue of trade imbalance in India’s favour and also in favour of other developing nations,” he added.
Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had compromised on India’s interests and conceded on issues that would adversely affect India’s food security programme and farmers’ livelihood. He feared that India would be subject to international inspections of its public purchases.
Similarly, Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) noted that as per the WTO agreement, developed countries would not allow developing nations including India to initiate steps that affect market mechanisms like public procurement or giving subsidies. It meant that the government would have to introduce direct cash transfers to farmers, which would hurt India’s food security, he added.
The WTO has no jurisdiction on India’s food security or any other sovereign programmes: Sharma India would be subject to international inspections of its public purchases: Jaitley
The WTO has no jurisdiction on India’s food security or any other sovereign programmes: Sharma
India would be subject to international inspections of its public purchases: Jaitley