World Trade Organization addresses India's concerns, issues revised draft

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Union Minister Anand Sharma with his counterparts Rob Davies of South Africa and Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado of Brazil at IBSA lunch on the sidelines of World Trade Organization Ministerial meeting in Bali. PTI Union Minister Anand Sharma with his counterparts Rob Davies of South Africa and Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado of Brazil at IBSA lunch on the sidelines of World Trade Organization Ministerial meeting in Bali. PTI
SummaryRevised WTO draft seeks to address India's concerns on food security to get the Bali package passed.

In a landmark attempt to take forward the stalled Doha Round of global trade talks, the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday evening issued a revised draft of the Bali package that would address India's concerns on food security and take through the trade facilitation agreement.

The draft has proposed an interim solution with a peace clause of four years during which a permanent mechanism will have to be finalised.  

Significantly, it would not preclude developing countries from rolling out their own food security programmes as it will include only existing programmes -- key concerns for India that is implementing the Food Security Act.

"The permanent solution on food security and public stockholding must be acceptable to all members and put in place by the Eleventh Ministerial," it said.

"A great day for India, I am more than happy.... India has clinched World Trade Organization deal for the farmers and poor of the world," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said after the final round of negotiations.

However, developing nations will be bound to notify the World Trade Organization's Committee on Agriculture if they are in danger of capping the 10 per cent subsidy limit. It also prohibits any market distorting activities and will be monitored closely by the WTO.

Fulfilling the major concerns of the US and the EU, the draft text has also called to put in place the Trade Faciliation pact over the next two years for which a preparatory committee would be set up. The pact will put in binding rules to ensure easier movement of goods, adding $ 1 trillion to the global GDP according to a study.

"It is aimed as a full package that will take care of all three agendas of agriculture, trade facilitation and development," said a source connected with the developments.

The draft now has to be approved by trade ministers of all 159 countries who were called for an informal meeting by World Trade Organization director general Roberto Azevedo at 8 pm (local time) on Friday after nearly 36 hours of hectic negotiations.

Sharma said, "It's a path-breaking decision...This is the first major decision or agreement that has been reached ever since the WTO was established.

"The previous agreement based on the Uruguay round was inherently imbalanced and flawed. The balance was against the developing countries and that is why support was mobilised and it became an imperative to launch a new round of negotiations, which is the Doha Development Agenda."

Due to the meeting, the closing session of the ministerial summit is likely to be extended. The World Trade Organization chief is likely to make a formal statement late Friday night.

If the package is approved, it will be the first global trade deal in over 12 years and will help restore credibility to the World Trade Organization.

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