India to pitch for food security steps at WTO meet

Updated on Jun 12, 2022 04:43 AM IST
In a potential global breakthrough, the US, EU, India and South Africa agreed on a draft “compromise agreement” on waiving intellectual property (IP) rights for Covid-19 vaccines, HT first reported on March 17 this year.
In March 2020, the government launched PMGKAY as part of a larger set of measures to offset the financial impact of the pandemic. (HT PHOTO)
In March 2020, the government launched PMGKAY as part of a larger set of measures to offset the financial impact of the pandemic. (HT PHOTO)
ByRajeev Jayaswal, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

India will seek to safeguard the interests of its farmers and fishermen, defend its massive food security programmes, push for the waiver of intellectual property rights on Covid vaccines, and oppose developed countries’ move to further extend customs duty moratorium on electronic transmission of goods and services under e-commerce at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) being held in Geneva from Sunday, three people familiar with India’s position said.

“In India, millions of farmers own small plots of land where they practice subsistence agriculture. They cannot be left unprotected to face global competition from developed countries where large-scale commercial farming is practised with astronomically high subsidies,” one of them said.

“Similarly, India has enacted a National Food Security Act (NFSA). Under that, highly subsidised grains procured by government from farmers at MSP [minimum support price] are distributed to 800 million poor people. In fact, the government’s massive 3.40 lakh crore free 5kg dry ration per month under PMGKAY [PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana] is in effect since April 2020,” this person added. In March 2020, the government launched the scheme as part of a larger set of measures to offset the financial impact of the pandemic.

India is leading a group of developing countries along with South Africa, seeking a temporary waiver for certain provisions of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement to provide universal access of Covid-19 vaccines and medicines to the poor countries. “Interestingly, the Pope has also supported the humanitarian proposal led by India,” a second person, who will be present in MC12 at Geneva said.

In a potential global breakthrough, the US, EU, India and South Africa agreed on a draft “compromise agreement” on waiving intellectual property (IP) rights for Covid-19 vaccines, HT first reported on March 17 this year.

Another key issue for India is related to e-commerce and electronic transmission of goods and services. “Developed countries want to extend the customs duty moratorium further as they are the major players in this domain. But, by one estimate, developing countries are losing over $10 billion in revenue on this count. Besides, it is one of the major grey areas that needs to be clarified,” a third person said.

(With inputs from Zia Haq)

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Friday, August 12, 2022
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