India has reiterated its commitment towards a successful conclusion of the 2001 Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and other issues of interest to developing countries at an informal gathering ahead of the next World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial, and made a fresh pitch for reduction in massive trade-distorting farm subsidies offered by developed countries.
In the informal gathering in Marrakesh, Morocco, on October 9-10, which was held to set the agenda for the upcoming WTO ministerial in Argentina in December, commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu also called for a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes, which would “give a strong signal of determination to end hunger and achieve food security”.
Prabhu referred to the agreed objectives of the agriculture negotiations in the Doha Round. He stressed that any meaningful reform in agriculture “must first seek to reduce the disproportionately large subsidies of the developed countries”, according to a statement by the commerce ministry.
In a joint paper submitted with the WTO, India and China have said the developed world, including the US and the EU, have cornered 90% of the farm subsidy entitlements, amounting to $160 billion a year.
The Doha round of negotiations has remained stalled since 2008, primarily over the issue of huge trade-distorting subsidies being given to farmers by the rich countries. The fundamental objective of the DDA was to improve trading prospects for developing nations. It included issues such as agriculture, greater market access in industrial products, enhanced foreign direct investments, regulations relating to services trade, trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, rules on anti-dumping, subsidies and trade facilitation. While India and other developing nations want a reaffirmation to conclude the DDA first, developed countries seek to mostly dilute the negotiations and widen the mandate with new issues, including e-commerce and global value chain.
On discipline on fisheries subsidies, Prabhu stressed the importance of suitable special and differential treatment provisions and the need to make a clear distinction between large scale commercial fishing and traditional fishing.He observed that developing countries like India, possessing very low fishing capacity, would also need to retain policy space to promote and create such capacity.
India has also been seeking concrete work plans on a special safeguard mechanism (SSM) for developing countries to protect their farmers from a spurt in imports, and on a permanent solution to the issue of its
official grain procurement and food security in the country, as agreed on in the Bali ministerial.