By lambasting developed nations on trade facilitation and cotton subsidies, India on Wednesday edged closer to eliciting the support of least developed countries (LDCs) on the contentious issue at the ongoing ministerial of the World trade Organisation at Bali in Indonesia.
India is trying to garner support for exemption on public stock-holding of food grains. By espousing the cause of LDCs, India has strategically guarded against any collaboration among developed nations at the WTO.
Accusing developed nations of paying only lip service to the interests of the developing economies as well as LDCs, India’s commerce minister Anand Sharma said, “None of these texts (WTO proposals) require the developed countries to make binding commitments for the benefit of developing countries. In contrast, developing countries would be required to undertake significant commitments in trade facilitation.”
“Most of the texts that are before us are ostensibly for the benefit of developing countries. In reality, on issues including cotton subsidies, export competition, monitoring mechanism and DFQF (duty-free, quota-free), the draft texts contain mere statements of intent with best endeavour provisions,” said Sharma.
India, along with the cotton-4 (C4) countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali) and African countries, has been demanding reduction of subsidies on cotton by the European Union and the US.
The commitment on cotton subsidy reduction was taken during the run-up to the Cancun meet in 2003 after which it was formally accepted for discussion in the Hong Kong ministerial in 2005. So far, the issue has not reached any consensus.
In the draft for trade facilitation, initially, developed nations had kept financial support for LDCs and some developing countries as a core element. However, the final draft has diluted such requirements by mentioning them as non-binding in the footnotes.
Pitching in for the interest of LDCs, Sharma said, “In DFQF, what is being offered is less than what was mandated in the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration of 2005.”
In November this year, India decided to give DFQF market access to 96.2% of the India’s tariff lines to LDCs. Earlier, it was allowed on 85% of Indian products.