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BW Businessworld

India Sticks To Its WTO Stand As Trade Impasse Continues

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With India sticking to its tough stand, efforts to break the impasse in the WTO on trade facilitation agreement and food security issues proved futile on Tuesday and further consultations will continue over the week.
The General Council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which met after a gap of over two months, could not make much headway.
"I will be holding a series of meetings in a range of different configurations. We then plan to hold a Heads of Delegations meeting next Thursday...," WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said.
"I will be convening meetings, but as always, the substance will be up to you. Whether, and how, we make progress will be in your hands," he told the 160-member of the WTO.
A senior Indian government official said that India's stand remains the same on the crucial issue of public food stockholding for food security purposes.
"India's stand remains the same," the official said, adding that the General Council meeting lasted only 90 minutes.
The European Union said earlier this month that India had until 21 October to support the global trade deal or risk being left out of the agreement to ease worldwide customs rules.
The WTO's highest decision making body General Council's meeting on July 31 had remained inconclusive after India emphasised that Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and finding a permanent solution to the food stock-holding issues should be taken up together.
Champions of the deal say it would add $1 trillion and 21 million jobs to the world economy.
Food Security Issue
India had also made it clear that it would not ratify the TFA until a permanent solution was found on the food security issue.
New Delhi had asked WTO to amend the norms for calculating agriculture subsidies so that the country could continue to procure food grains from farmers at minimum support price and sell them to poor at cheaper rates without violating the norms.
The current WTO norms limit the value of food subsidies at 10 per cent of the total value of food grain production.
However, the quantum of subsidy is computed after taking into consideration prices that prevailed two decades ago.