India pitches for permanent solution on food security issue

India today pitched for a permanent solution to the food security issue at the WTO by December 31 so that there could be predictability on farm subsidies.

“We have to get it (the permanent solution) by December 31. The permanent solution will bring in predictability and symmetry,” Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher told reporters here.

Ending months-long deadlock, the WTO in November last year acceded to India’s demand to remove constraints on the food stockpiling issue.

The WTO’s General Council, the highest decision making body of the organisation, had accepted India’s demand for extending the peace clause till a permanent solution is found for its food stockpiling issue.

This has enabled India to continue procurement and stocking of foodgrain for distribution to poor under its food security programme without attracting any kind of action from WTO members even if it breaches the 10 per cent subsidy cap as prescribed by the multilateral trade body.

For a permanent solution to the food security issue, India had proposed either amending the formula to calculate the food subsidy cap of 10 per cent which is based on the reference price of 1986-88 or allowing such schemes outside the purview of subsidy caps.

If no solution is found by the agreed deadline of December 31, the peace clause will continue till the time a solution is found.

Talking about the next Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December, Kher said India wants all the pending issue of Doha Round on the table.

However, there is a likelihood that the WTO members may discuss only four or five important issues of the Doha Round which includes agriculture (export subsidies, cotton and fishery subsidies), market access and services.

Another official said that in the next 8 to 10 days, the final agenda to be discussed in Nairobi would be finalised.

The Doha Round of negotiations launched in 2001 have remained stalled since July 2008 due to differences between the rich and the developing nations mainly over the subsidies given to farmers.

Source: Economic Times

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