Developed nations dragging feet on food security at WTO

Tags: News
India on Wednesday charged developed countries of dragging its feet at the WTO negotiations in Geneva on finding a permanent solution to the issue of food security and public stock holding even as they vigorously pursued talks on trade facilitation.

As a follow up to WTO Bali ministerial last year, the discussions at Geneva is focusing more on trade facilitation at the behest of some advanced countries, but the other two issues, finding permanent solution to food security and some issues pertaining to least developed countries, are increasingly being pushed to the back burner.

“We are committed to trade facilitation,” India’s commerce secretary Rajiv Kher said. He also said that at the same time other commitments made at Bali ministerial to find a permanent solution to the food security and public stock holding should be taken forward.

All the three components are part of the single agreement to be negotiated upon at Geneva as part of the follow-up to the Bali ministerial, Kher said, adding that progress in one area of interest to advanced nations is rapid, while the other to developing countries are slow.

“This way of progress at WTO talks in Geneva will make it difficult for developing countries including India and LDCs to lend their support to the imbalance in the process or work,” Kher said.

“We have already put forth our view that there is need to address issues that are of importance to developing countries as well,” Kher, who was India’s chief negotiator at the Bali ministerial, said.

There is a strong desire among developing countries and LDCs that these issues should be addressed simultaneously, Kher said adding “we have conveyed this message on a day-to-day basis. We will intensify our action in this direction.”

The Bali declaration makes it clear that until a permanent solution is found to the food security and public stock holding at the WTO, there would be no cap on public procurement as an interim arrangement.

With regard to the growing demand from exporters and Indian industry to withdraw minimum alternative tax and dividend distribution tax on SEZ, Kher said the commerce ministry has strongly recommended their withdrawal as there is clear acknowledgement that SEZ is a potential tool of industrial development, manufacturing and exports.

Both the stakeholders and our own analysis points to the fact that MAT and DDT have suppressed the growth of SEZs in the country. “We feel those should be done away with and rules with regard to SEZ needed to be liberalised.”

With regard to the demand from certain quarters for removal of anti-dumping duty on cheap solar panel imports, Kher said “we believe imposition of anti-dumping duty will be a clear signal to the domestic industry to gear up for future demand and make or seek investment in the sector.''

“If we are talking about long-term solar energy development, it is good way of doing this in perfectly legitimate manner,” he said.

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