HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Put Bali agreement on hold, Modi govt to tell Kerry

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 29, 2014
First Published: 23:46 IST(29/7/2014) | Last Updated: 08:40 IST(30/7/2014)

India will push for the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) — signed at the World Trade Organisation in Bali last December — to be put on hold until a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security is found, during US secretary of state John Kerry’s visit beginning from Wednesday.

India’s tough stand on the TFA (reforms of customs rules) — being pushed by the developing world including the US — has riled the West.  But the government is of the view that the UPA-II government should have taken a firm stand on the issue at Bali rather than agreeing to a permanent solution on the food security issue to be found by 2017.

According to sources, nothing has moved forward on food stockpiling issue, which is of utmost importance to India. There are clear indications that TFA will be pushed through without addressing these genuine concerns — a position totally unacceptable to India.

Read: Kerry lays stress on Modi's 'sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas' growth slogan

India is against the provision of putting a permanent cap on the support price that governments can give to farmers, which doesn’t factor in the annual inflation as well. The support price is also a domestic issue for the government.

The Israel-Palestine crisis will also come up in Kerry’s meetings with his counterpart Sushma Swaraj. The two leaders will co-chair the India-US strategic dialogue on July 31. Kerry will also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will be traveling to the US in September — a visit tipped to revitalise ties between the two countries. He will also hold a meeting with national security adviser Ajit Doval besides addressing the Indian business leaders.

Secretary of commerce Penny Pritzker, deputy secretary of department of energy Daniel Poneman, under secretary of department of homeland security Francis X Taylor and special envoy for climate change in department of state Todd Stern will be part of Kerry’s delegation. Pritzker will also meet with commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

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