WTO chief raises concerns over India food security law

October 07, 2013 06:55 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:20 pm IST - New Delhi

Asserting that India will soon be breaching their Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) commitments to WTO due to its new food security programme, the newly elected Director General, Roberto Azevedo on Monday sought a positive solution to the issue before the Bali Ministerial to be held in December as some countries have expressed concern over the procurement and distribution of highly subsidised foodgrains.

Speaking separately at the events organised by CII and FICCI, Mr. Azevedo said India had asked the WTO to work out a solution as it was keen to win legitimacy for its ambitious food security law that promises highly subsidised foodgrain to rural and urban poor. “We have agreed in Geneva on a certain issue and are working on a “peace clause’’ to find a permanent solution to the issue. India would soon be breaching their AMS commitments in the WTO. So, they are asking for some kind of action in Geneva that could allow those programme to continue to work unaffected till a final solution is found,’’ the WTO Director General said.

He said Bali Ministerial meet will look at how this permanent solution will come. The Peace Clause in Article 13 of the agreement on agriculture (AOA) has been there for 9 years. India is open to accepting a Peace Clause as an interim mechanism till an acceptable final solution. India is also ready to commit that procured food grains would not be released for international trade and the management of public stocks would be done in a transparent manner, the official said.

The UPA II government is presently implementing the Food Security Act which entitles 82 crore people to 5 Kg of foodgrain per person per month at the rate of Rs. 1-3 per Kg. The country needs 62 million tonnes of foodgrain in a year to implement the law. “The initial proposal on food security, which was tabled by G-33 was immediately rejected by many countries for different reasons. However, we have made lot of progress since that point of time. From upfront rejection, we now are building an environment for very constructive engagement that will try to address this issue in a positive manner,’’ Mr. Azevedo said.

Mr. Azevedo underlined the need for national governments to show flexibility and reasonability to evolve a consensus on a multilateral trade package that is meaningful and doable. “Time was running out and it was imperative that Trade Ministers actively engage with one another in the weeks ahead to find a common ground, failing which plurilateral, multilateral and bilateral agreements will proliferate and many countries will be denied the benefits of a rule-based approach to trade liberalisation. The markets will then open on non-MFN basis and the ticket to admission into these agreements will be far more expensive than a WTO-led multilateral trading system,’’ he added.

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