India is unlikely to allow ratification of a trade facilitation protocol at a crucial World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Geneva on Thursday if it does not simultaneously endorse its concerns about food subsidies to feed its poor, said official sources.
Most developed countries are pressuring India to drop its demand on food subsidy and endorse only the protocol for trade facilitation agreed upon December by WTO members in Bali last year.
If India drops its demand, it risks facing legal action by WTO members in case its food subsidy exceeds 10 per cent of the total production value of a basic agricultural commodity. New Delhi fears that this limit might be breached to meet its programme for feeding the poor and that’s why it insisted at Bali for an agreement on both issues — increasing the limit on food subsidy and endorsing the trade facilitation protocol.
However, the Geneva meet won’t be the last word on the subject because even if there is no unanimity on Thursday, there is still a week left for the deadline for signing the trade facilitation protocol to end.
India is concerned over the way in which three recent global meetings on the issue have gone and feels next week is crucial to finding an enduring solution to the danger of breaching WTO caps on food subsidy. New Delhi has gained the support of several developing countries, small and big alike, which might find themselves in a similar quandary.