India has had its way on the Bali Package at the Ninth Ministerial of World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The Ministerial Decision put up for endorsement to the member countries is the draft India submitted to the WTO and takes care of India’s position on both food security and trade facilitation.

The ministers are expected to adopt it by midnight. If they do, it will be the first major decision in the 21st century on global trade after the WTO came into being, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters here.

The draft proposes an interim mechanism for safeguarding minimum support prices to farmers against WTO caps till a permanent solution is found and adopted.

“It’s a war of nerves,” Sharma told reporters just before the WTO released the draft. “It’s a historic first and a landmark for the WTO where India held firm not only for Indian farmers but all of poor and developing countries.”

Over the past two days Director-General of WTO Roberto Azevedo and the Ministerial Chair and Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan held several marathon meetings with the USTR Michael Froman and Sharma. “We live in interesting times but I stand firm on the Indian position on food security,” Sharma said on his way out of his meeting with the three “giants”.

Later on Friday, he told Business Line that at this meeting he had rejected the text prepared by the Director-General for the Ministerial Decision.

“Ambassador Froman told me he would need a mandate from Washington to agree with us and I told him to convey to President Obama that we wouldn’t like to see him stand against developing countries’ right to food and I found the USTR receptive.”

Three hours after this meeting, at 3 a.m., India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to WTO at Geneva Jayant Dasgupta handed over the Bali text India had prepared to the Director-General.

On Friday morning, Azevedo put up India’s proposed Bali text to the heads of delegations after a one-on-one meeting with Froman. He assured the heads of delegations that no member country would be forced to adopt the final text for the Bali deal now being worked out, said official sources.

Sharma twice apprised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the developments. He met the Director-General couple of times and held pullouts with several Latin American, African and Least Developed Countries and built a coalition that stood firm on the issue of food security.

The closing ceremony of the Ministerial, originally scheduled for Friday afternoon, was postponed to midnight as negotiations and meetings went on. Sharma postponed his departure for Delhi originally scheduled for 4 p.m.

(This article was published on December 6, 2013)
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