Unconvinced by India's line that it will not sign the Trade Facilitation Agreement at World Trade Organisation (WTO) unless its food security concerns are addressed, a large block of global powers have joined hands against New Delhi in Geneva where negotiations on this matter are going on.
In two separate statements the European Union and an Australia-led group of more than two dozen countries have asked India not to veto the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). "A decision to step away would be in no one's interest. It would seriously undermine the ability of the WTO to deliver for the future," warned the 25-country group led by Australia. Read the full report here: European Union, Australia-led group unite against India at WTO
For understanding India's stand, read: Why is India not agreeing to the WTO trade facilitation agreement
Below is full text clarification issued by Commerce Ministry:
I thank you Chair for your assessment of the state of play and the Chairs of various Committees for their reports.
Some Members spoke of a credibility crisis facing the WTO. Our diagnosis of the cause is, however, quite different from theirs. We believe that the failure of the WTO to work in the interests of all its Members and to deliver meaningfully on the “development” mandate of the Doha Development Round would pose a far more serious risk to its credibility than any other factor.
In Bali we signalled to the rest of the world that the WTO is capable of delivering outcomes- an objective of strong systemic importance. Developing countries accepted the Bali package in good faith reassured by the renewed affirmation of commitment to the Doha Development Agenda and its development dimension.
But our expectations, Mr. Chairman, have been completely belied by the developments after the Bali Ministerial. As we have consistently pointed out, India is seriously concerned about the lack of progress on some of the Bali outcomes and minimal movement on the others. Although discussions on the DDA work programme - the timeline for which is December, 2014, - may have started for the sake of form, we seem to be repeating our past mistakes. A clear will to engage in areas of interest to developing countries is conspicuously absent. To make matters worse, persistent efforts are being made to subvert the mandate by divesting it of its core elements.
While meetings have taken place on some of the Bali issues, they have not even resulted in the contours within which those issues are to be discussed further and resolved. Discussions on the Bali Decision on public stockholding have not even commenced despite repeated requests by the G-33 and the proposals already on the table. Some of the LDC issues have been similarly left behind.
As a consequence, even seven months after Bali, we do not have the required confidence and trust that there will be constructive engagement on issues that impact the livelihood of a very significant part of the global population.
Having signed on to the Ministerial Decisions in Bali, let there be no doubt about India’s commitment to those Decisions including the Trade Facilitation Agreement. All we are asking is that the public stockholding issue as well as other decisions of Bali be taken forward in the same timeframe as Trade Facilitation.
The issue relating to public stockholding is an agreed part of the 2008 text and represents a life and death situation for a number of developing countries and LDCs. There are already proposals on the table – reiterated recently in a fresh submission by the G-33 – on the basis of which discussion can begin immediately.
We believe this is a simple issue which can be addressed very quickly. This is important so that the millions of farmers and the poor families who depend on domestic food stocks do not have to live in constant fear. To jeopardize the food security of millions at the altar of a mere anomaly in the rules is unacceptable.
India is of the view that the Trade Facilitation Agreement must be implemented only as part of a single undertaking including the permanent solution on food security.
In order to fully understand and address the concerns of Members on the TF Agreement, my delegation is of the view that the adoption of the TF Protocol be postponed till a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security is found. In this context we have suggested a modification to the Protocol in the PrepCom. We stand by that proposal. The Bali outcomes were negotiated as a package and must be concluded as such. Timelines are important but we cannot afford to act in haste in the WTO ignoring the concerns expressed by Members.
Mr. Chairman, we would like to make some concrete suggestions on procedure in order to ensure that we are able to deliver outcomes on these issues in a time-bound manner. We suggest the following course of action:
(1) establish immediately an institutional mechanism such as a dedicated Special Session of the Committee on Agriculture to find a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security.
(2) There must be clear-cut procedures, timelines and outcomes under this institutional mechanism so as to arrive at a permanent solution by 31st December 2014.
(3) A similar approach must be adopted on all other elements of the Bali Package notably the LDC issues.
(4) The progress of these accelerated discussions must be reviewed in October 2014 by the General Council.
If WTO Members demonstrate the same energy and commitment on the other Bali issues as they have done on TF, we will not only be able to find a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding for food security but will also be able to implement TF in the agreed timeframe as well as deliver favourable outcomes for LDCs.