Anand Sharma: India will not compromise with food subsidy at WTO

0
232

November 29, 2013

NEW DELHI: Ahead of next week's WTO meet in Bali, commerce minister Anand Sharma on Friday asserted that India will secure and protect its right to food security and strive for a permanent immunity from any kind of farm subsidy breach.

Indian Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma

November 29, 2013

NEW DELHI: Ahead of next week's WTO meet in Bali, commerce minister Anand Sharma on Friday asserted that India will secure and protect its right to food security and strive for a permanent immunity from any kind of farm subsidy breach.

Indian Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma

He also said that India will remain positively engaged with the other WTO members on farm subsidy and other issues, including trade facilitation agreement (TFA).

The TFA is aimed at making international trade much easier by simplifying and streamlining custom procedures across the globe. The pact is billed to bring in gains worth USD 1 trillion for global trade.

There are fears that India's food security programme would breach the subsidy cap of 10 per cent under the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture. Developed countries have proposed an interim solution of four-year 'peace clause' during which period India would not attract penalty even if the 10 per cent cap is broken.

"It has been speculated that India has agreed to only four years protection (under the peace clause)…Let me put the record straight that India's final position will be made clear in the Ministerial statement," Sharma told reporters here.

The Bali Ministerial of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is schedule for December 3-6.

"We are also very clear that interim solution means interim solution until a permanent solution is put in place. In Bali, India expects all countries to commit to negotiating all issues for a permanent solution and this element separately and specifically to be focused under the separate work programme when it comes to food security," the minister said.

"As far as what we give to our poor people, that is our right and that is insulated in entirety from any multilateral negotiations or WTO negotiations. That is the sovereign space and for India it is sacrosanct and non-negotiable.

"India has never agreed when it comes to this particular aspect to be made part of any multilateral," he said.

On concerns of the developed would that the stockpiling of grains for the food security law would distort global trade, Sharma said: "I have made it clear that public procurement cannot be released for global trade."

He said that India would secure and protect the right to food security of poor people and right of farmers.

Indian government buys foodgrain from farmers at minimum support price, which developed country deem as subsidy.

On TFA, Sharma said that India has agreed on many issues and only few things are there to be resolved.

He also said that the Union Cabinet on Thursday decided to give duty free and quota free market access to 96.2 per cent of the India's tariff lines to least developed countries (about 24). Earlier it was allowed on 85 per cent of Indian products.

The meeting gave Sharma a mandate to negotiate India's stand at the Bali WTO ministerial meeting.


Courtesy: PTI