India wants WTO members to implement entire Bali package

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on August 19, 2014 Published on August 19, 2014

Meetings to resume next month after summer break

India wants World Trade Organisation (WTO) members to begin talks on implementing all issues that were agreed to in the Ministerial meeting in Bali last December – including trade facilitation, food security and least developed countries matters – as a single undertaking.

Trade talks at the WTO ended bitterly on July 31 after members failed to move forward on finalising a pact on trade facilitation, but meetings will resume in September after the summer break.

“We are not against the Trade Facilitation Agreement. We just want it to be implemented with all other elements of the Bali package,” a Commerce Ministry official said in an interaction with the media.

WTO members failed to sign the trade facilitation protocol by July 31, as agreed to in the Bali Ministerial, as India refused to fall in line. New Delhi insisted that a permanent solution to its concerns on meeting food security needs of its people without breaching subsidy caps be simultaneously firmed up.

“In the post-Bali discussions, the developed countries started putting conditions for even beginning talks on finding a permanent solution to the problems of food security. It seemed they were interested in only trade facilitation. That is why we insisted that the entire Bali package be implemented as a single undertaking,” the official said.

Contentious issue

The Trade Facilitation pact, being pushed by several developed members such as the US and the EU, places obligations on all members to improve port infrastructure and streamline customs procedures to facilitate flow of goods.

India and other developing country members of the G-33 group want the WTO to sort out concerns on their food procurement subsidies. Not only does the WTO consider such subsidies as trade distorting and subject these to a cap of 10 per cent of value of production, the method of calculating the subsidy levels is also flawed as it is pegged to market prices prevailing in 1986-88.

India and the G-33 have proposed that either the WTO consider all subsidies given for procuring food from the poor as non-trade distorting subsidies not subjected to caps, or it make the reference price for calculating such subsidies more realistic by pegging it to recent years.

New Delhi wants a permanent solution to be in place by December 31 this year.

It also wants the LDC package, which includes proposals such as bringing down cotton subsidies, to be implemented simultaneously.

Published on August 19, 2014
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