As only a few hours are left for WTO members to ratify the trade facilitation pact, India today asserted that its stand "remains the same". "Our stand remains the same," Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters after meeting US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. The World Trade Organization (WTO) members have to adopt the protocol on the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) tonight.
India has made it clear at the WTO General Council meeting last week in Geneva that it would not ratify the TFA until a permanent solution is found on food security issues. Pritzker had yesterday said the US is "very disappointed that India has taken a step back from its agreements that it made in December (last) at the WTO. Sitharaman, however, said that the WTO's Bali issues were not discussed during the meeting with Pritzker.
Meanwhile Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher said India has suggested "a way of action" to break the impasse. A government source, however, said that India has not changed its position in Geneva. "India wants clear intent on its food security issues. Whatever changes India want should be clearly reflected in the new text," the source said. Hectic consultations are going on in Geneva to resolve issues between developed countries and emerging economies. WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo is meeting officials in Geneva to end the impasse on issues related with TFA and public stock-holding for food security purposes.
New Delhi is pressing for an amendment to WTO norms regarding stockpile of food grains, an issue critical to India's food security programme. The current WTO norms limit the value of food subsidies at 10 per cent of the total value of food grain production. However, the support is calculated at the prices that are over two-decade old. India is asking for a change in the base year (1986-88) for calculating the food subsidies. India wants a change taking into account inflation and currency fluctuation.