India is talking to “good number” of countries to garner support on its stand on the food security issue at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with a view to carrying forward the talks for freer trade. The WTO has resumed work at Geneva from September 1 after a month long vacation. “We will start from where we have left. The bottom line is already made clear. We are willing to talk but achieve the same objectives in whatever manner,” Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher told reporters here. He said that it was now up to the WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo to convene meetings in the form of either calling heads of delegation or in smaller groups.
“We are talking to few countries...a good number of countries,” Mr. Kher said when asked whether India was engaging with other WTO members to garner support on its tough stand which led to failure of talks in Geneva.
At its last meeting at Geneva on July 31, the 160-member WTO failed to agree on a global customs pact popularly called the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
India had decided not to ratify WTO’s TFA, which is dear to the developed world, without any concrete movement in finding a permanent solution to its public food stock-holding issue for food security purposes.
New Delhi has asked WTO to amend the norms for calculating agriculture subsidies so that the country could continue to procure foodgrains from farmers at minimum support price and sell them to poor at cheaper rates without violating the norms.
The current WTO norms limit the value of food subsidies at 10 per cent of the total value of foodgrain production. However, the quantum of subsidy is computed after taking into consideration prices that prevailed two decades ago.