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India confident of solution to food security issue at WTO

In this file photo, visitors arrive for an open house at the World Trade Organisation headquarters in Geneva. India is hopeful of a solution to the food stockpile issue at the WTO negotiations at Geneva.

In this file photo, visitors arrive for an open house at the World Trade Organisation headquarters in Geneva. India is hopeful of a solution to the food stockpile issue at the WTO negotiations at Geneva.   | Photo Credit: MARTIAL TREZZINI

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New Delhi says a permanent solution to the food grain stock pile issue is pre-requisite for the trade facilitation agreement.

India on Tuesday said both the issues of permanent protection for its minimum support prices for food grain procurement from farmers against dated caps of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and a Trade Facilitation deal were likely to be resolved with talks resuming in Geneva next month.



“The WTO is still alive and talks are due to resume in September with proposals for satisfactory solutions on the food security clause are on the table,” high-level Commerce Ministry sources told presspersons on Tuesday.



“India has placed all options before the WTO… if it wants the food security issue can be ironed out within a month.”



India will remain firm on its stand that the setting up of a work programme for finding a permanent solution on the food grain stock pile issue should be the pre-requisite for approving the trade facilitation agreement (TFA).



Despite the missed TFA protocol deadline, the officials clarified, the interim Peace Clause (PC) will continue to be in place. The PC provides protection against the WTO farm caps until a permanent solution is found.



WTO talks on a TFA protocol collapsed on July 31 after India refused to ratify it, discontent with the lack of progress on the food security clause. India’s worry is once they have the TFA in hand, the developed countries will “run from the table” without ironing out the food security issue. The fears arise from the fact that the developed countries ensured that the TFA protocol was placed before the WTO General Council for adoption on July 31 as per the scheduled agreed to in Bali, without initiating the food security work programme.



“Developed countries wanted to re-interpret the WTO Bali deal to extract from developing countries more than the TFA in return for agreeing to a food security permanent solution,” said the officials. They blamed the developed countries’ “greed” for unsatisfactory pace of progress.



India wants the WTO to update its caps for farm subsidies as they are benchmarked to the food prices of the 1980s. The TFA and food security clauses were both agreed to in a WTO Ministerial in Bali last December.



The officials also said that there were no studies to show that the TFA would give a $ 1-trillion boost to global GDP. India had faced severe global criticism following its veto of the TFA. One of the points of censure was that India is holding up the expansion of the global economy.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 9:21:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-hopeful-of-a-solution-to-food-stockpile-issue-at-wto-negotiations/article6331797.ece

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