After debates, India has its way at WTO

After debates, India has its way at WTO

In a major victory for India, the WTO on Friday agreed to allow countries to provide subsidy on staple food crops without any threat of punitive action, a concession that salvaged the current round of world trade talks from the brink of collapse.

After burning the midnight oil and tough negotiations over the past four days in the face of India’s unrelenting stand on the food security issue, the 159-member World Trade Organization (WTO) reached a historic agreement that will boost global trade by $1 trillion.

The deal allows nations such as India to fix a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farm produce and to sell staple grains to the poor at subsidised rates. It also permits countries to store foodgrains to meet contingency requirements.

“A great day for India, I am more than happy...India has clinched WTO deal for the farmers and poor of the world,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told PTI after the final round of negotiations.

The draft agreement, which will protect the right to food and allow India to go ahead with its $20 billion food security scheme, is expected to be adopted by the plenary later in the day.

“It’s a victory for Indian farmers and farmers of the developing world. It is also recognition of the right of developing nations for public stock-holding of food grains to ensure food security for their citizens,” Sharma said.

The agreement will come as booster for the WTO, which until yesterday had failed to make headway with regard to the Doha round of trade talks, pending since 2001.

Sources said the resolute fight put up by Sharma helped in clinching the deal in favour of the poor and subsistence farmers of the developing world.

According to the proposal, all schemes providing support in relation to procurement for public stock-holding programmes for staple food crops will be protected from WTO litigation.

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