PMO meets commerce ministry, plans a WTO ‘peace clause’ proposal

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New Delhi | Published: November 4, 2014 3:18:42 PM

The Prime Minister’s Office on Monday held a meeting with the commerce ministry on World Trade Organisation...

The Prime Minister’s Office on Monday held a meeting with the commerce ministry on World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations in the wake of the readiness shown by the US to discuss India’s concerns on food security.

Although India is unlikely to retract from its stance on the issue, sources said, it is evaluating a proposal for “a perpetual peace clause” till a “permanent solution” is found on the issue of public stock holding for food security. A peace clause like this would ensure developing countries  are not taken to world body’s dispute settlement panel even if their domestic support to farmers crosses the limits prescribed.

The WTO members had failed to meet the July 31 deadline for signing the protocol of Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), mainly due to India’s stance that an agreement on a permanent solution to the food security issue should be arrived at by December-end this year so that it can be implemented with the TFA and a package for least developed countries.

TFA was meant to ease global customs rules and add $1 trillion to the global economy in addition to creating 21 million jobs. India has since said it is not opposed to TFA, but added that while members engaged with commitment on TFA to quickly resolve issues, the same urgency was not shown on the issue of food security.

The Bali package had an ‘peace clause’ preventing WTO members from taking any developing country to the dispute settlement panel for violating the norms that the trade distorting domestic support should not be over 10% of the total production.

Once the Bali package is amended to include such a clause, India will not then come in the way of signing the TFA, the sources said.

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