As a way out of the stalemate at the Bali WTO Ministerial, India on Thursday proposed a partial package comprising agreed texts and a commitment to negotiate contentious issues further.
“If only 8 out of 10 texts are adopted and the remaining two negotiated, the heavens will not fall on earth,” said Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, addressing a press conference. India has endorsed eight of the 10 texts on the table, he said, and is willing to negotiate the outstanding chapters on Trade Facilitation.
Sharma reiterated that no agreement in Bali is better than a bad one. He added that India’s isn’t seeking a dispute or compromise but mature understanding from the US, the EU and developed countries on food security.
“We stand for strengthening the WTO and correcting historical imbalances,” he said, referring to developed countries’ massive subsidy support for their farmers.
After the presser, he hosted lunch for delegates from 20 key South American, African and Least Developed Countries. Later, Indian delegates met with WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, who was holding consultations with different countries, including the US, to find an agreeable Bali Package.
Sharma said that to resolve the stalemate, Indian negotiators have proposed that the prices to which WTO caps on food security farm subsidies are calibrated be updated.
“We have been saying update the prices so that we can come to the 21st century and not be held hostage to prices in the 1980s,” said Sharma. “They want it to be binding on us to accept 1980s prices and make ourselves vulnerable to disputes.”