WTO talks: Don’t harp only on fishery sops, says India

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

BL20_FISH   -  The Hindu

Tells US, others there must be progress in agriculture, industrial goods and services pacts

India has said that negotiations on tightening fishery subsidies at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) pushed by the European Union, New Zealand and Chile should take place only after there is substantial progress in the areas of agriculture, industrial goods and services.

Warning against ‘cherry-picking’ of issues, the Centre said that the proposal to curb such subsidies to clamp down on over-fishing should not be singled out as several other related areas such as anti-dumping are part of the working programme on rules.

In a recent meeting of the WTO’s Negotiation Group on Rules, a handful of countries, including the EU, New Zealand, Chile, the US, the Philippines and Australia, said discipline in this area should be central to any Doha Round work programme. They argued that global fish stocks continued to fall while harmful fish subsidies continued to increase.

“There is an ongoing attempt at WTO by developed countries to identify individual issues and try to push for an agreement, completely ignoring the agenda of the Doha Development Round. We have to guard against it,” a Commerce Ministry official told Business Line.

India has called for exclusion of small and marginal fishermen from the multilateral curbs in the negotiations on fishery subsidies, stating that livelihoods of lakhs of poor families in India depend on fishing.

The Doha Round, launched in 2001 to open up markets in agriculture and industrial goods and services, is in a logjam, but members agreed to deliver on a small package of issues at Bali last year, reviving interest in the round.

In Bali, the developed countries managed to get through an agreement on trade facilitation — a pact to smoothen trade by improving infrastructure and reducing paperwork.

In return, India and some other developing countries were given a reprieve against action on the subsidies given by them to farmers for buying crops for their food security programme. A promise was made that a long-term solution to the issue would be taken on priority-basis after the Bali meeting.

“Although we agreed on a trade facilitation pact, we do not want pacts on individual issues to become a rule. The Doha Round has to be agreed upon in full and the developed countries can’t cherry-pick issues that they want to push. We are also determined to ensure that our problems related to subsidising our food security programme is settled at the earliest,” the official said.

Published on May 19, 2014
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