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Food law may test WTO limits

business Updated: Oct 08, 2013 12:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
World Trade Organsiation

The World Trade Organsiation’s (WTO’s) new chief Roberto Azevedo on Monday said India’s food security law will increase subsidy levels that will likely breach WTO commitments even as India pressed for a need to find a middle ground as negotiations gathered steam ahead of the ministerial conference in Indonesia in December.

“One important issue where India is very much involved is the food security proposal. Now what is behind that is because prices have been rising in the last few years, we see some countries like India for example getting very close to their commitments in the WTO,” Azevedo said.

“They would soon be breaching their, what we call AMS (Aggregate Measurement of Support) commitments in the WTO. So, they are asking for some kind of actions in Geneva that could allow those programmes to continue to work unaffected,” the WTO director general said.

India has passed a new Food Security Act that will legally entitle nearly two-thirds of the population to subsidised food grain.

“The negotiations are complex but there is an appreciation of legitimacy of food security and the associated concerns in India and other developing countries. Now, we have to work towards an acceptable formulations,” commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said.

In the absence of a broad-based agreement on the Doha round of trade talks that started in 2001, member countries are making a fresh attempt to build a consensus.