India has stressed the need for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) member countries to take up for discussion on a priority basis at the Nairobi meet beginning on Tuesday the issue of huge trade distorting farm subsidies of the rich countries and its consequent adverse impact on millions of resource poor and subsistence farmers in developing countries.
Ministers from the WTO’s 162 member countries are meeting at the Kenyan capital during December 15-18 for negotiations aimed at a deal to liberalise global trade.
Farm lobbies in the rich world have been, for decades, shaping the discourse and determining the destiny of these poor farmers, India — represented by Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman — pointed out during a meeting of the G33 countries (a coalition of 48 countries demanding flexibility for developing countries in limiting market opening of the agriculture sector).
India said the reduction in the huge subsidies given to the farm sector in the rich countries — which was a clear mandate of the ongoing Doha Round negotiations with a ‘development’ agenda — is now not even a matter of discussion, leave aside serious negotiations.
On the importance of the G-33 countries, New Delhi said they represent the collective voice of over two-thirds of humanity and an overwhelming majority of poor and subsistence farmers.
In another meeting, of the G-20 countries, India said the time had come to remove the disparity in agricultural trade rules, biased in favour of developed countries. Concluding the Doha Round negotiations would go a long way in correcting these distortions, it said.
The G-20 meetings have played a pivotal role in driving the agenda of the agriculture negotiations at the WTO, India said.
New Delhi — at the G33 meeting — said there could be no better tribute to the Ministerial Conference (the WTO’s highest decision- making body), taking place in Africa for the first time, than to come up with measures to protect the poor farmers and the right to food security of the developing countries. For this, India wanted an agreement on a Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) and a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security. SSM is a trade remedy which is important for developing countries as it will allow them to temporarily hike duties to counter sudden import surges and price fall due to the heavily subsidised agricultural imports.