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  1. India wants status quo in food procurement to change for better

India wants status quo in food procurement to change for better

On the eve of the 11th WTO ministerial, the officials said India is serious about the permanent solution to public stock holding, as was first agreed on in the Bali ministerial and endorsed later at Nairobi.

By: | Buenos Aires | Published: December 10, 2017 1:19 AM
India at World Trade Organisation, better deal for food security India at WTO,  Bali Peace Clause WTO, India food security, India fisheries, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu WTO India is eyeing a permanent solution on the issue of official grain procurement and food security at the World Trade Organization`s (WTO`s) next ministerial in Buenos Aires starting Sunday. (Reuters)

India is eyeing a permanent solution on the issue of official grain procurement and food security at the World Trade Organization`s (WTO`s) next ministerial in Buenos Aires starting Sunday. But the country won`t accept a solution that is inferior to the permanent peace clause it has already secured, Indian officials said on Saturday. On the eve of the 11th WTO ministerial, the officials said India is serious about the permanent solution to public stock holding, as was first agreed on in the Bali ministerial and endorsed later at Nairobi. However, “it has to be better than what we already have (permanent peace clause)”, especially in operational aspects. The peace clause protects India’s food procurement programmes against penal action from WTO members in case subsidy ceilings are breached. India, along with other developing countries, will also make a strong pitch for reduction in massive trade-distorting farm subsidies offered by developed countries and push for concrete actions on the Doha Development Agenda. In a joint paper submitted with the WTO, India and China have said the developed world, including the US and the EU, has cornered 90% of the farm subsidy entitlements, amounting to $160 billion a year.

The Doha round of negotiations have 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 re-affirmation 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, India will stress 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 on which millions of Indian fishermen are dependent on to make a livelihood. India feels developing countries, possessing very low fishing capacity, would also need to retain policy space to promote and create such capacity.

India will also seek concrete work plans on a special safeguard mechanism (SSM) for developing countries to protect their farmers from a spurt in imports. At the same time, India has to resist pressure from developed countries for going beyond TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) and IT agreement, and including e-commerce on the WTO agenda.

On e-commerce, which is being pushed hard by the developed countries, India believes while it has no problem in discussing such new issues, but taking it to the negotiating table is not acceptable at this moment. India can also think of having an accelerated work programme for important issues like e-commerce but such a move must not push important items (Doha agenda) already on the negotiating table to the background.

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