The talks collapsed at the WTO’s 11th ministerial conference with the US reneging on its commitment to finding a permanent solution to the public food stockpile issue, resulting in disappointment to developing countries especially India. As the US refused to engage, the 164-member World Trade Organisation (WTO) failed to reach a common ground for resolving the food security issue, a demand raised prominently by India. The fate of the ministerial conference was sealed after Assistant US Trade Representative Sharon Bomer Lauritsen in a small group meeting said that permanent solution to the food stockholding issue was not acceptable to America. Here are the two major disappointments for India:
1)For India, failure to successfully push the food security issue was a big disappointment. India sought a permanent solution to the critical issue of public procurement programme at the on-going ministerial of the World Trade Organization (WTO) itself and asked the developed world to trim their massive trade-distorting farm subsidies without putting the onus of a reduction in such dole-outs on developing nations. He stressed the permanent solution for public stockholding for food security purposes is a matter of survival for eight hundred million hungry and undernourished people across the globe.
2)India had specifically asked for a special safeguard mechanism to protect farmers from unusual shocks delivered by cheaper imports, in sync with a system that already exists for the developed countries. With talks ending abruptly, this is was the second let down.
Under the global trade norms, a WTO member country’s food subsidy bill should not breach the limit of 10 percent of the value of production based on the reference price of 1986-88. Apprehending that full implementation of food security programme may result in a breach of the WTO cap, India has been seeking amendments in the formula to calculate the food subsidy cap. As an interim measure, the WTO members at the Bali ministerial meeting in December 2013 had agreed to put in place a mechanism popularly called the Peace Clause and had committed to negotiating an agreement for a permanent solution at the 11th ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires. As an interim measure, the WTO members at the Bali ministerial meeting in December 2013 had agreed to put in place a mechanism popularly called the Peace Clause and had committed to negotiating an agreement for a permanent solution at the 11th ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires. India wants a better solution than the status quo that makes compliance easier and concession more substantial for developing nations. While India`s major procurement programmes are covered, many in the G33 grouping of developing nations–especially the African countries, and even China– could be affected unless a reasonable and lasting solution is worked out.
With PTI inputs