Macro Economy

Farm lobbies alone should not drive WTO talks: Sitharaman

Amiti Sen Nairobi | Updated on January 22, 2018

Nirmala Sitharaman

Taking developed countries and farm goods exporters head-on on the eve of the World Trade Organisation’s ministerial meet at Nairobi, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that for decades only a handful of farm lobbies of some countries have shaped the discourse at the multilateral body, and this had to change.

Speaking at a meeting of the G-33 group of 46 developing countries in Nairobi on Monday, Sitharaman said that the group represented the collective voice of over two thirds of humanity and an overwhelming majority of poor and subsistence farmers and had to be heard. “We must be able to collectively send out a message that any outcome in Nairobi must be balanced and cover all elements of the DDA,” the Minister said. The G-33, which includes both India and China and is headed by Indonesia, is fighting for measures to protect developing country farmers from import surges and reaching a permanent solution for treating food procurement subsidies. Maintaining its firm position on not entertaining new issues such as environment and investment at the meeting of senior officials from G-20 countries in Nairobi, India said that any readjustment of ambition had to be across the board and not selective if we are to achieve a balanced outcome.

“The reduction in the massive subsidisation of the farm sector in developed countries, which was the clear cut mandate of the Doha Development Agenda, is now not even a subject matter of discussion, leave aside serious negotiations,” Sitharaman said, demonstrating how one-sided the WTO talks had become.

Published on December 14, 2015

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