News / Economy

    India Confident WTO Will Understand Food Security Concerns

    FILE - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
    FILE - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
    Reuters

    India is confident that it will be able to persuade members of the 160-strong World Trade Organization to understand its concerns over food security which derailed a global trade deal last week, the country's trade minister said.

    Nirmala Sitharaman told parliament that the Bali trade accord, an agreement reached on the Indonesian tourist island last year, should be concluded as a package, linking India's ratification of a trade facilitation treaty to movement on a parallel treaty on stockpiling of food.

    “I am confident that India will be able to persuade the WTO membership to appreciate the sensitivities of India and other developing countries and see their way to take this issue forward in a positive spirit,” she said amid thumping of desks by lawmakers.

    India's new national government vetoed the adoption of a treaty to simplify, standardize and streamline the rules for shipping goods across borders, having previously agreed to its terms at the ministerial conference in Bali last December.

    After drawing widespread condemnation, India has since said it is ready to sign the global trade deal as early as next month if other World Trade Organization members agree to its demand for concessions on food subsidies, estimated at $12 billion a year.

    “India is not standing in way of implementation of Trade Facilitation but seeking equal level of commitment and progress in working on the issue of public stockholding,” Sitharaman said.

    “A permanent solution on food security is a must for us and we cannot wait endlessly in state of uncertainty while WTO engages in an academic debate on subject of food security,” she added.

    India fears that once it agrees to trade facilitation - largely seen to help advanced nations - it would have lost the bargaining chip on the subsidy issue.

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