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US nudge on WTO position continues

india Updated: Sep 20, 2014 00:37 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times
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Not budging from its position, the US remains at the forefront of nudging India to give up its stand on farm subsidies for food stockpiling in order to clinch a trade facilitation pact at the World Trade Organisation.

According to sources, US will yet again take up the issue as part of a “larger plan” to get India to drop its position during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US scheduled for September 26-30.

“Developed countries like US and Australia have their own strategy. But we have our own concerns and compulsions to have a large food security programme for the masses. That cannot be compromised at any cost,” said an official.

He recalled that PM Modi had “explained in detail” about India’s position to secretary of state John Kerry, even citing factors like the “failed monsoon” wrecking havoc on India’s farm sector, putting food security in jeopardy.

“We’ve made our position very clear, which is that while we are very sympathetic to the food-security concerns the prime minister has voiced, we believe that the trade facilitation agreement is a very, very important agreement,” US assistant secretary of state Nisha Biswal said, adding that the Indian stance “undermines India’s interests as well as interests of many developing countries and emerging economies”— something New Delhi doesn’t agree with. “This is not correct. Many developing countries have similar concerns. Some prefer to be silent. That doesn’t mean India should follow suit.”

India did not let a protocol for the trade facilitation agreement — the WTO pact to ease worldwide customs rules — to take shape by July 31. India insists that a permanent agreement on its subsidised food stockpiling to ensure food security for the masses must be in place at the same time as the trade facilitation deal much ahead of the 2017 deadline set in Bali last year.

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