WTO imbroglio: India not for 1986-87 as base year

“Fix base year on basis of average of last 3 years”

Updated - November 16, 2021 07:14 pm IST

Published - August 07, 2014 01:39 am IST - NEW DELHI

India has offered fixing of the base year for food subsidies on the basis of average of last three years, as opposed to 1986-87 as proposed by WTO, as a way forward for an agreement at the WTO and is very hopeful of convincing other members on the subject, Union Minister of State for Industry & Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Replying to clarifications sought by members on her statement on the Indian stand at the recent WTO meeting, Ms. Sitharaman maintained that India did a ‘course correction’ on the position taken at the Bali ministerial conference. “No economist worth his salt would agree to 1986-87 as a base year in 2014-15,” she commented.

Explaining the changed stance, the Minister said India insisted on a ‘single undertaking principle’ to ensure simultaneous implementation of nine plus one issues which the Ministers had agreed at Bali.

“Not isolated” Asserting that India is not isolated or pained at the criticism for the non-progress at the recent meeting, the Minister said: “We would have felt even more pained that we sat back and allowed this whole thing to go away, and the Western developed countries take or snatch away trade facilitation, and we are sitting with a Damocles sword over our heads thinking as to when it is going to come down heavily on us.”

The Minister said several less developed countries (LDCs) as well as others were appreciative of the stand taken by India as they themselves could not publicly articulate their concerns.

Quoting the South African Trade Minister as having told her on the sidelines of the G-20, she said, “I am taking up the cause of the LDCs, but I know for sure that the LDCs themselves are not able to speak out of it, for whatever compulsions”.

“Wait till Sept.” Ms. Sitharaman said that India and other LDCs were willing to wait till September 2014, for every one to convince each other.

“We are asking is trade facilitation the only thing, at the end of the day, about Bali, or, is it trade facilitation and also development? Because, for development we want inclusive growth, for which my poor [people] have to be fed, for which India should stand up, ensuring that the poorest of the poor farmers get the Minimum Support Price and the poor get fed through the PDS,” the Minister told the House.

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