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  1. India to pursue food security issue with greater vigour at WTO

India to pursue food security issue with greater vigour at WTO

India will ramp up efforts to get concrete work programmes on the issues of public stock holding for food security as well as a special safeguard mechanism (SSM) to protect farmers now that the Nairobi ministerial of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is concluded, commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday.

By: | Updated: December 24, 2015 1:15 AM

India will ramp up efforts to get concrete work programmes on the issues of public stock holding for food security as well as a special safeguard mechanism (SSM) to protect farmers now that the Nairobi ministerial of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is concluded, commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday. She also made it clear that India’s fight will continue, along with other developing and poor nations, until the 2001 Doha Development Agenda (DDA) is reaffirmed in concrete terms.

Commenting on the next course of action, the minister said: “The intention from our side is to pursue it (food security) with greater vigour in Geneva so that a work programme is given at the earliest. And based on the work programme, the committee on agriculture (special session) will be held. And as was committed in Bali and as was reaffirmed in Nairobi, a permanent solution to this issue should emerge in 2017 (in the next ministerial).”

On the issue of having a special safeguard mechanism to protect farmers against any spurt in imports and volatility in commodity prices, the government has “made sure that what was given to us as a right in Hong Kong ministerial declaration” should be honoured, she said. India strongly opposed attempts by some countries, especially the developed ones, to link the SSM with market access in Nairobi, she added.

“Now that a decision to commit on the SSM and a decision to commit on a work plan on the SSM is made (at Nairobi), we will quote that and ask for a work plan,” she added.

Sitharaman also clarified that India was not part of the latest Information Technology Agreement at Nairobi, so any provisions of this pact will not be binding on it.

As many as 53 WTO members agreed in Nairobi to a seven-year time frame to scrap all tariffs on 201 IT products that account for an annual trade of $1.3 trillion. Such a pact is touted to drive down prices of items ranging from video cameras to semi-conductors. However, India had been opposing such an agreement on fears that the deal would benefit only those countries (notably the US, China, Japan and Korea) that have a robust manufacturing base in these products, and not India.

Arvind Mehta, additional secretary in the commerce ministry, said India and other developing nations have been successful in preventing any provision to allow “evergreening” of patents at the Nairobi ministerial of the World Trade Organization (WTO) despite immense pressure from some countries to the contrary. The firm stand was aimed at ensuring accessibility and affordability of generic medicines.

The fundamental objective of the DDA was to improve trading prospects for developing nations and it included issues such as agriculture, market access in industrial products, enhanced foreign direct investments, and regulations relating to services trade, trade-related aspects of intellectual proerty rights (TRIPS), and rules on anti-dumping, subsidies and trade facilitation. While India and other developing nations want re-affirmation to conclude the DDA, developed countries want to mostly dilute the negotiations and seek to broaden the mandate with new issues.

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Tags: WTO

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