India makes strong pitch at WTO for solution on food stockpile

Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed addressing a plenary session at the ongoing WTO 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires Argentina

Apprehending that full implementation of food security programme may result in breach of the WTO cap, India has been seeking amendments in the formula to calculate the food subsidy cap.

Lighthizer called for a clarification within WTO of development status saying the USA couldn't "sustain a situation in which new rules can only apply to the few, and that others will be given a pass" - a reference to countries like China and India. Otherwise, it will set a precedent to bring in other non-trade issues such as labour and environment standards into the WTO's ambit, the officials said.

The 2017 deadline was for a permanent solution to the issue, creating confusion that the peace clause would also end and India would not have any protection.

India's food security programmes will not be adversely impacted even as the WTO members failed to find a permanent solution to the food stockholding issue at the ministerial meeting which is closing on Wednesday, officials said.

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An official said a lot hinges on the way the chair of the conference - Argentinian minister Susana Malcorra - understands the texts given by various countries.

The effort, the release said, would be to ensure that declaration reaffirms the principles of the multilateral trading system, commits to completion of the Doha Development Agenda, maintains centrality of development and availability of special and differential treatment to developing countries. "There is something wrong, in our view, when five of the six richest countries in the world presently claim developing country status", the media quoted Lighthizer as saying in his address at the plenary.

Even after hectic parleys, the 164-member World Trade Organisation (WTO) failed to reach a common ground for resolving the food security issue as the U.S. refused to engage, threatening a successful conclusion of the four-day conference.

In addition, progress was made in Buenos Aires on a number of fronts including support for small businesses, e-commerce, and agriculture, Pickerill said.

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The development comes as a major blow to India's fight to get a binding decision on the public stockholding of foodgrain, a key component of agriculture.

Prabhu met the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, Jorge Faurie where they discussed issues related to bilateral matters which encompass political, economic, scientific and technological cooperation. "The minister had said that we don t envisage an outcome without the permanent solution", she said, adding that "deeper engagements on specifics" are expected today and tomorrow. This has the potential to irreversibly damage the credibility of the WTO as a Ministerial Decision of all countries present in Nairobi has not been honoured.

India has expressed "deep disappointment" over the decision of the United States to block permanent solution to the public food stockholding issue.

"India has emphasised that permanent solution was a must have and should be an improvement over the Peace Clause (agreed at Bali)".

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On Tuesday morning (local time), the United States blocked a deal on public stockholding+, prompting WTO to try and salvage a future work programme in the absence of any concrete decisions.

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