India return empty-handed from WTO meet: Anand Sharma

India did not secure any commitments at the Nairobi meet on a Special Safeguard Mechanism, says Congress leader Anand Sharma  

The Congress and other opposition parties will start an agitation within and outside Parliament on the issue of what they call the failure of the government to protect India’s interests at the recently concluded Nairobi meet of the WTO.

The government’s official delegation, led by Commerce Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, which represented India at the Nairobi, has returned empty-handed, Deputy leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha and former Commerce Minister, Anand Sharma, said.

India did not secure any commitments at the Nairobi meet on a Special Safeguard Mechanism (a tool to help developing countries protect poor farmers from import surges and price falls of farm items) and on a permanent solution for the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes. Mr Sharma told The Hindu .

“This is a huge failure at a time of agrarian distress and when many farmers are committing suicide. We will agitate within and outside the Parliament,” he said.

He questioned how the government, after agreeing to the WTO’s Ministerial Declaration in Nairobi, could release statements saying ‘India opposes non reaffirmation of the Doha Development Agenda’. “Such statements have made already India a laughing stock,” Mr Sharma said.

Mr. Sharma, who is a senior Congress leader and who as the commerce minister in the previous UPA regime had represented India at the 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, said the NDA government “miserably failed to build upon the gains we made in Bali, including the one on obtaining a 'peace clause' (during which the WTO member countries cannot challenge the agriculture subsidies given by nations saying they violate the provisions of the WTO norms).”

He said Ms. Sitharaman had earlier made a statement in Parliament that the U.S. President Barack Obama had reaffirmed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about a permanent solution to be in place by December 2015.

Sharma said since that statement was made in Parliament, Ms. Sitharaman and the NDA government should apologise to the Parliament as it has not come true.