India to pursue food security issue with more vigour at WTO

  • HT correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 23, 2015 23:26 IST

Commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said that India’s stand at the recently held WTO meet in Nairobi was “reinforced” and it negotiated “hard to ensure” to ensure protection of farmers’ interest without giving in to pressures from countries such as US and the EU.

“I want to reaffirm that India did not surrender before the US or the European Union and instead in Nairobi what we have ensured is to have a reaffirmation of Bali and General Council meeting of November 2014,” Sitharaman said.

Sitharaman said that a few developed countries including the US, however are opposed to the continuation of the Doha Round, where one of the issues was reduction of farm subsidies by developed nations. “I am disappointed because with one voice the WTO did not reaffirm the Doha agreement,” she said at a press conference later.

She said that the Nairobi ministerial declaration clearly stated

that while one section did not want to reaffirm the Doha Round and there is another (India, China G33, Arab Nations and least developed countries) which wants to reaffirm. “….That section will keep fighting to have it reaffirmed...that fight will continue,” she added.

Sitharaman also said that India “will pursue with greater vigour” a work programme in Geneva with a view to finding a permanent solution to the food security issue.

The minister added that India sought and succeeded in obtaining a re-affirmative ministerial decision on public stockholding for food security purposes honouring both Bali and General Council decisions.

Sitharaman also said that a large group of developing countries has been seeking a special safeguard mechanism (SSM) for agriculture products in future discussions in WTO. The minister said it was a

right given to the developing nations in the Hong Kong Ministerial declaration. India would also ask for preparation of a work programme on this, she added.

The Congress party has claimed that India came back empty handed and that it failed to build upon the gains made in Bali. The rich countries also stood their ground on their position of putting the onus on developing countries with regard to duties.

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