'Food security goal consistent with India's obligations'

'Food stockpiling needs lasting solution'

'Food security goal consistent with India's obligations'

India on Wednesday clarified that its decision not to ratify WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) is aimed at ensuring that the country's efforts to ensure food security remain consistent with its international obligations.

“The stand taken by India is aimed at achieving a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes so that the country's efforts to ensure food security remain consistent with its international obligations,” Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

India's stand is that without such a permanent solution, public stockholding measures in developing countries will be hampered by the current ceiling on domestic support at 10 percent of the value of production. Such support is considered as a trade-distorting subsidy to farmers under existing WTO rules.

During the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013, WTO members, including India, agreed on a Bali Package comprising an agreement on Trade Facilitation and on issues relating to agriculture and development. “While there was progress on the Trade Facilitation Agreement, other decisions including one on public stockholding for food security purposes and other development issues were sidelined,”  Sitharaman said.

Since its decision not to ratify the TFA, India has followed up with suggestions on how to ensure time-bound delivery of an outcome on public stockholding for food security, she added. 

US disappointed

India's refusal to ratify the trade facilitation agreement at WTO was disappointing, a US envoy to India said .

“My country and all other countries in the WTO framework were disappointed as India made a changed stance in July last,” said Stephens, Charge d'Affaires ad interim to India, at an informal interaction with reporters here.

She said had India agreed to the new global customs rules, then it could have been an enormous step for trade facilitation for smaller countries as well.

Taking a tough stance, India last month refused to sign the trade facilitation pact at WTO demanding a permanent solution to issues of food stock holding and subsidies."I hope India can play a pro-active role in the multilateral WTO forum not only for other nations, but also for its own interest as well", Stephens, who took over charge after the resignation of Ambassador Nancy Powell, said.

In the meantime, India is preparing arguments in consultation with stakeholders to present its case in the WTO against a complaint filed by the US over the use of domestic content under the national solar mission, the Parliament was informed on Wednesday.

The US has dragged India into the WTO on the issue of the domestic content requirement condition on procurement of solar cells and modules under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) Programme.

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