News Cabinet to Take Call on India's Stand on WTO Bali Pact   Email this page
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NEW DELHI: Amid sharpening differences between India and developed world on WTO issues, Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will finalize this week New Delhi's stand on Bali agreements including ratification of the trade facilitation pact.
The Cabinet meeting comes close to the July 31 deadline for ratification on protocol of trade facilitation agreement (TFA).

India has vehemently opposed the process of implementation of the WTO's Bali agreements which include TFA, permanent solution on India's public stock holding of foodgrains for its food security programme and issues pertaining to least developed countries (LDCs).

The final protocol for the TFA, which is dear to the developed world including the U.S. and Australia, was concluded by the WTO members but "no single meeting" has happened on India's food security related issues, a senior commerce ministry official said.

"India do not trust the intentions of the developed countries. There are examples in the history for not trusting them. India's stand will now be decided by the cabinet. The Prime Minister will have to sit with the Cabinet and decide. We want single undertaking," the official said.

The official added that the Cabinet would take a call whether to ratify the trade facilitation pact or not. The pact will be formally implemented in 2015.The Cabinet meeting also assumes significance on the backdrop of the WTO's two-day General Council Meeting which will discuss the Bali issues.

The official said India insists on implementing the TFA only as a part of a single undertaking that includes a permanent solution on food security.

The current WTO norms limits the value of food subsidies at 10 percent of the total value of food grain production. However, the support is calculated at the prices that are over two decades old and not at the current prices.

In the recently concluded G20 trade ministers meeting in Sydney, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has raised India's concerns over the slow progress in finding a permanent solution for its food subsidies.

The TFA, which aims at simplifying customs procedure, increasing transparency and reducing transactions cost, is being pushed by the U.S. and other developed nations as they seek to bolster their sagging economies through an unhindered international trade by way of a uniform and easy procedures at customs.

However, the official said these countries are completely avoiding discussions on issues related with public stock holding of cereals for India's food security programme."India's concern is that till now not a single step has been taken on our issues. At least they should give us a clear message or a framework. The base of Bali talks were that nothing is agreed till everything is agreed. We want delivery of TFA along with other issues," the official added.

India is asking for change in the base year (1986) for calculating the food subsidies. The U.S. gives about $120 billion as agriculture subsidy as compared to India's $12 billion.

"Since 1986, inflation has gone up, value of domestic currency has gone up. It has to be changed," the official said, adding South Africa and Argentina supported India's stand in the G-20 meeting of trade ministers.

India has asked the G20 to show leadership and address the genuine concerns of India and understands its sensibilities, the official said.

Another source said that the UPA-government has signed the Bali pact which was a "skewed agreement" but the new government would work in that framework and protect India's interest in the WTO.

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