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India Sticks To Tough Stand; PM, FM, Nirmala Discuss WTO Pact Email this page
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NEW DELHI: India is unlikely to yield to pressure of developed nations on pushing the WTO's Bali agreement without addressing New Delhi's concern on food security issues at the Geneva meeting.
The issue was today deliberated at the highest level at a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The meeting to decide on India's stand was attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

"India's stand is clear. It will not move forward on trade facilitation agreement (TFA) in absence of a concrete framework to find a permanent solution on public food stockpile which is necessary for the food security programme," sources said.

A formal decision on India's stand on the vexed WTO issue will be taken at the meeting of the Union Cabinet tomorrow.

The General Council of the 160-member WTO is meeting in Geneva on Thursday to adopt the trade facilitation deal and India's stand on the issue will be crucial. The global trade body will find it difficult to adopt the TFA without India's approval.

Sources said the developed countries will have to give a concrete framework to find a permanent solution for India's public stock holding issue and without that New Delhi will not adopt the TFA protocol.Sharp differences have emerged between rich economies like the US and Australia and emerging nations, including India and South Africa, on implementation of the Bali package.

While the developed world is pressing for adoption of protocol on TFA, India is asking for finding a permanent solution for its food security programme.

India wants implementation of TFA only as a part of a single undertaking that includes a permanent solution on food security issue.

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

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

The final protocol for the TFA, which is dear to the developed world including the US and Australia, was concluded by the WTO members but no single meeting has happened on India's food security related issues.

"Developed world is talking about the deadline of adoption of TFA, which is July 31. Issues are important and not the deadlines," they added.

The TFA will be formally implemented in 2015. The TFA, which aims at simplifying customs procedure, increasing transparency and reducing transactions cost, is being pushed by the US 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.

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