Agri Business

Goyal discusses need for a balanced multilateral pact in farm, fisheries with WTO DG

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on October 21, 2021

Iweala to meet PM, other Ministers, industry, self-help groups in India this week

Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal met WTO DG Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in New Delhi on Wednesday and discussed the need to attain a balanced and fair multilateral trade order, keeping in mind the sensitivities of developing countries, in the backdrop of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference beginning next month.

“Met Director General of the World Trade Organisation in New Delhi. India supports the efforts of the WTO to ensure fair trade among member countries. Building consensus, cooperation & synergy is crucial in our interconnected world,” Goyal tweeted after his meeting on Wednesday.

Goyal and Iweala will meet again on Thursday to take forward discussions in the key areas being thrashed out at the WTO including curbing harmful fisheries subsidies and disciplining farm subsidies.

Also see: G20 Ministerial: Goyal speaks against vaccine discrimination, calls for IPR waiver

Iweala is scheduled to call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also meet other Ministers including Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her visit. Meetings with industry representatives, including those into medical goods and vaccines, and members of self help groups, are also on the agenda.

“The WTO DG wanted to meet Minister Goyal both to thank him for India’s support for her during the DG selection process and also to take into account the country’s views on key areas for the WTO MC 12. In their meeting on Wednesday evening, the Minister articulated the existing concerns that India has at the WTO and how it thinks the playing field could be balanced for the developing countries at the MC 12,” an official told BusinessLine.

During the meeting, the Minister also talked about India’s growing digital economy, the National Health Authority and its achievements and the Government e-Marketing (GeM) platform.

Check on subsidies by rich nations

In the two key areas of curbing harmful fisheries subsidies and disciplining farm subsidies, India is seeking not only carve-outs for itself and other developing countries to protect the interest of vulnerable sections of population, but is also proposing disciplines to check the burgeoning subsidies of rich nations, the official said.

For instance, in the ongoing fisheries negotiations, India has said that the present draft text was biased and could not form the basis of negotiations. “India has said that its proposal suggesting that India and other developing countries should be given a 25 years horizon to continue their subsidy programmes for their marginal fishers to help them grow in stature, needed to be part of the negotiating text. However, rich countries engaging in deep sea fishing using highly mechanised ships must do away with their subsidies,” the official said.

Similarly, in the area of agriculture, India has called for dismantling of high subsidy entitlements of several rich members due to which their farmers were allowed to be given subsidies as high as $40,000 per capita while for a country like India the subsidy that was allowed added up to just about $400 per capita, the source said.

India also wants priority to be given to finding a permanent solution for public stock-holding that would allow it to provide MSP support to farmers without worrying about ceiling limits.

Published on October 20, 2021

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