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India to press for food security at Bali World Trade Organisation meet

Sunday, 1 December 2013 - 10:58pm IST | Agency: PTI

Ahead of WTO meet in Bali, India today said it will be firm on its core agenda of food security and protect the interest of poor people and farmers.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma will be leading a 30-member delegation for the four-day World Trade Organisation's ministerial conference starting from Tuesday. "... India will be firm on the core agenda of food security, while being persuasive and constructive," an official statement said today.

According to the statement, Sharma is also likely to strongly raise the issue of subsistence farmers of India at the G-33 meeting being convened tomorrow in Bali ahead of the ministerial conference. He would unequivocally convey to his interlocutors that India's concerns on food security are non-negotiable, it said. "The Minister will underscore the fact that the Bali ministerial must have a fair and balanced outcome, which addresses the concerns of developing countries adequately, especially so on food security," it said.

The Commerce Minister is also likely to underscore India's commitment for the Least Developed Countries (LDC) agenda where India has taken a unilateral decision for zero duty access covering 96.2% of tariff lines. "India will demonstrate its constructive engagement, as it has unequivocally endorsed 3 out of the 5 issues under consideration of the WTO-namely, LDC issues, tariff rate quota and export competition," the statement said. 

Sharma would pitch for a balanced outcome which addresses India's food security concerns and not just an outcome which deals with interests of the strong exporting economies of the developed world in spite of strong headwinds in Bali with the developed countries likely to oppose a lasting agreement on food security.

Developed countries like US and Canada have raised apprehensions that food stockpiling exercise of India and other developing nations to implement food security plans will breach the 10% subsidy cap under the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture (AoA).

India is demanding amendment in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, under which farm subsidy is capped at 10%. India is apprehensive that it may breach the cap while implementing its food security plan. Under the plan, government would provide wheat and rice at cheap rates to poor people.

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