India committed to protecting farmers’ interests: Minister

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 25, 2017

Nirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister (file photo)   -  The HIndu

Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister (file photo)   -  The HIndu

Will be able to persuade WTO members, says Nirmala Sitharaman

India is committed to protecting the interests of its farmers against all odds and stood firm on its demands despite immense pressure in the recent WTO General Council meeting to wrap up the trade facilitation agreement, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Making a suo motu statement in Parliament on India's stand in the World Trade Organisation, Sitharaman expressed confidence that India would be able to persuade the WTO members to appreciate the sensitivities of India and other developing countries and see their way to taking this issue of food insecurity forward in a positive spirit.

“This would be a major contribution by the institution towards meeting the global challenge of food insecurity and would convey a strong message that the WTO is genuinely committed to the cause of development,” she said.

The Minister said some developed countries had been reluctant to engage on issues other than trade facilitation in WTO.

Seeing the resistance to taking forward the other decisions, the apprehension of developing countries was that once the process of bringing the trade facilitation agreement into force was completed, other issues would be ignored, including the important issue of a permanent solution on subsidies on account of public stockholding for food security purposes, she said.

Permanent solution

India, therefore, took the stand that till there is an assurance of commitment to find a permanent solution on public stockholding and on all other Bali deliverables, including those for the least developed countries, it would be difficult to join the consensus on the protocol of amendment for the trade facilitation agreement. Without a permanent solution, public stockholding programmes in India and other developing countries will be hampered by the present ceiling on domestic support, which is pegged at 10 per cent of the value of production.

This is wrongly considered as a trade-distorting subsidy to farmers under existing WTO rules, she said. “The problem is a very real one. Developing countries are finding themselves hamstrung by the existing rules in running their food stockholding and domestic food aid programmes. It is important for developing countries to be able to guarantee some minimum returns to their poor farmers so that they are able to produce enough for themselves and for domestic food security,” she said.


Published on August 05, 2014

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