Hectic parleys on to find a solution to WTO impasse

Jul 30 2014, 09:38 IST
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India had made it clear that it would not ratify the trade facilitation pact until a permanent solution is found on food security issues. (Reuters) India had made it clear that it would not ratify the trade facilitation pact until a permanent solution is found on food security issues. (Reuters)
SummaryIndia had made it clear that it would not ratify the trade facilitation pact until a permanent solution is found on food security issues.

With the deadline to ratify the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement nearing, hectic parlays are on in Geneva to resolve issues between developed countries and emerging economies, including India.

In the WTO general council meeting last week, India had made it clear that it would not ratify the trade facilitation pact until a permanent solution is found on food security issues.

WTO members will have to adopt the protocol on the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) by July 31.

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo is meeting officials in Geneva today in order to end the impasse on issues related with TFA and public stock-holding for food security purposes, sources in the world trade body said.

Azevêdo briefed the coordinators on the state of play and outlined the steps he has taken so far and the actions he plans to take in the coming hours and he stressed that there are less than 48 hours to resolve the crisis and that all WTO Members should be on call to meet on short notice, sources said.

New Delhi is pressing for an amendment to WTO norms regarding stockpile of foodgrains, an issue critical to India's food security programme.

The current WTO norms limit the value of food subsidies at 10 per cent of the total value of foodgrain production. However, the support is calculated at the prices that are over two-decade old.

India is asking for a change in the base year (1986-88) for calculating the food subsidies. India wants a change taking into account inflation and currency fluctuation.

India also wants an immediate establishment of an institutional mechanism such as a dedicated special session of the Committee on Agriculture to find a solution to the issue of public stock-holding on food security purposes.

"There must be clear-cut procedures, timelines and outcomes under this institutional mechanism so as to arrive at a permanent solution by December, 31 2014...," India had said.

The TFA, which aims at simplifying customs procedure, increasing transparency and reducing transactions cost, is being pushed by the US and others as they seek to bolster their sagging economies through an unhindered international trade by way of a uniform and easy procedures at customs.

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