India will call for a permanent solution to its food security concerns at the 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting that begins Sunday after five years in Geneva, Switzerland.
Minister of Trade and Industry Piyush Goyal will lead the Indian delegation at the meeting.
“India has a vital interest in protecting the interests of all stakeholders in the country and the interests of the developing and poor countries that look up to India’s leadership in multilateral forums, including the WTO,” the Ministry of Commerce said. Industry in a communication. a statement.
Key discussions and negotiations at this year’s conference include the WTO’s response to the
pandemic, negotiations on fisheries subsidies, agricultural issues including holding public stocks for food security, WTO reforms and a moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmission.
In May 2022, the WTO director general brought three draft texts on agriculture, trade and food security and exemption from the World Food Program from export restrictions to negotiations.
“India has reservations about some of the provisions in the draft decisions and is engaged in the process of discussions and negotiations to preserve the rights under the Agreement on Agriculture without undermining existing ministerial mandates,” the Ministry of Trade and Industry said. said.
An important topic under negotiation at the WTO relates to the protection of India’s food grain procurement program at Minimum Support Prices (MSP). Such programs include purchases from farmers at regulated prices and are essential for supporting farmers and consumers in the country.
WTO rules limit the subsidy that can be given to such products that are purchased.
This issue is being negotiated in the WTO by the G-33, a coalition of developing countries of which India is a major member, and the African Group, which has jointly submitted a proposal with the ACP group for a permanent solution to the issuance of public stock for food security purposes on May 31, 2022.
India co-sponsored a G-33 proposal for a permanent solution to PSH for food security purposes at the WTO on September 15, 2021, which was co-sponsored by 38 members.
Negotiations are seeking improvements by developing countries on the ministerial decision adopted at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali in December 2013, where members agreed to negotiate a permanent solution to the issue of public stockpiling for food security purposes by the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference.
It was agreed that in the meantime, until a permanent solution is reached, members would exercise appropriate restraint (popularly called a “peace clause”) in raising disputes regarding public stockpile programs for food security purposes completed before December 7. 2013 were set even if countries exceeded their allowable limits.
As a result of India’s firm stance in the WTO, this peace clause was extended by a decision of the General Council of the WTO (GC) in November 2014 until a permanent solution was agreed and adopted.
This ensured that the ‘peace clause’ would be available forever. At the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in December 2015, WTO members agreed to work constructively together to negotiate a permanent solution.
The ministry said India does not want to link the PSH issue to other agricultural issues, nor to a program of work, as negotiating a permanent solution has a standalone mandate at the WTO.
Another topic under discussion relates to additional rules on export restrictions for agricultural products.
Export control proponents seek results on two counts: (i) exemption from the application of export controls for foodstuffs purchased for non-commercial humanitarian purposes, and (ii) advance notification of export restrictions, including improving compliance with existing notification requirements .
Other areas of discussion in agriculture are issues related to market access, a special safeguard mechanism for developing countries to protect domestic agricultural producers against sharp import fluctuations and sudden price drops, through additional import duties, along the lines of a similar safeguard currently available to many developed and few developing countries.