India has firmly placed its recently-launched food security scheme at the core of this week’s World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) ministerial conference in Bali, Indonesia, making it clear that it would not agree on a global trade regime that could hinder the roll-out of the programme.
“India will be persuasive and constructive, yet firm on the core agenda of food security,” a top government source with knowledge about the broad contours of India’s negotiation strategy, told HT. “India will make it clear that concerns on food security are non-negotiable.”
In the absence of a broad-based agreement on the Doha round of trade talks that started in 2001, member-countries are attempting to build consensus for laying down the rules of global trade.
Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma, who is leading India’s delegation to Bali, will also seek strong support for India’s concerns in a special meeting of G-33 countries on Monday, ahead of the WTO meet.
G-33 is a group of developing countries that co-ordinate on trade and economic issues, created to chalk out a uniform line of negotiations.
It has proposed special rules for developing countries, such as allowing them to restrict access to their agricultural markets.
“He (Sharma) is likely to raise the issue of subsistence farmers of India strongly. He will underscore the fact that the Bali ministerial must have a fair and balanced outcome, which addresses the concerns of developing countries adequately, especially on food security,” the source said.
India has passed a Food Security Act that sets the stage for one of the biggest welfare schemes of the UPA government, in an election year.
Developing countries want a deal to allow them to increase their ceiling on food subsidies above what is permissible currently, as well as a package for the least developed countries.
Developed nations have shown support for a “peace clause” that would agree to developing countries’ demands on food security for a period of four years.