India, WTO and public food stocks
Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman, clarified on 6 May 2015 to the Rajya Sabha on India’s stand at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on food security.
Here are the main points contained in Sitharaman’s reply to the Rajya Sabha:
1) A decision was adopted by the WTO General Council in November 2014 which makes it clear that a mechanism will remain in place in perpetuity until a permanent solution regarding this issue has been agreed and adopted.
2) The decision also means WTO members (countries) will not challenge the public stock-holding programmes of developing country members for food security purposes, in relation to obligations under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture.
3) The safeguard available for continuing the Minimum Support Price policy is thus strengthened and will ensure that India’s food security operations are not constrained due to WTO rules.
4) The WTO General Council Decision includes a firm commitment to engage in negotiations for a permanent solution.
Together with other developing countries, India has proposed an amendment to the rules of the WTO relating to public stock-holding for food security purposes. Sitharaman told the Rajya Sabha that “concerned at the lack of progress in implementing the Ministerial Decision on public stock-holding for food security purposes, India decided not to join the consensus in the WTO on next step for the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement till its concerns were addressed”.