Talks start on WTO meeting outcomes

Experts say removing export subsidies by 2023 is likely to worsen sugar sector crisis

January 28, 2016 12:03 am | Updated September 23, 2016 03:31 am IST - NEW DELHI:

India began its inter-ministerial consultations on the implications of the decisions taken at the last month’s World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) ministerial conference at Nairobi, a top government official said.

Speaking at a CII event, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said the consultations initiated by the commerce ministry covered “the consequences of the (Nairobi Meet) decisions and in what manner should India structure its domestic policies to utilise the freedom provided under the multilateral framework to support our industry.”

The discussions also revolved around the kind of support (subsidies) that is not possible or will not be possible for the farm sector in years ahead and how India should respond to that.

Additional Secretary in Commerce Department Arvind Mehta said the agriculture ministry sought a higher degree of protection for the farm sector “as the sector does not wish to see liberalisation happen very fast.”

Trade experts had said that the decisions on eliminating export subsidies by 2023 are likely to aggravate the crisis in India’s sugar sector.

The commerce ministry has also sought the finance ministry’s views on the problem of inverted duties (where the duty on inputs or raw materials or components is greater than those on the finished product).

The outcomes of the WTO’s Nairobi meet include ministerial decisions on agriculture covering a Special Safeguard Mechanism for developing countries (to counter import surges of farm items) and public stockholding for food security purposes.

It also includes a commitment to abolish export subsidies for farm exports and measures related to cotton.

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