WTO talks to fail as India plays hardball

Jul 26 2014, 01:21 IST
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WTO talks on trade facilitation are all set to fail with India reiterating its hardline position. WTO talks on trade facilitation are all set to fail with India reiterating its hardline position.
SummaryOKd 4-year food subsidy timeline at Bali, wants deal now

WTO talks on trade facilitation are all set to fail with India reiterating its hardline position that the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the one on food subsidies had to be concluded together.

Though the deadline for signing the protocol for TFA is July 31, and the Bali ministerial agreed to a four-year time frame for dealing with issues concerning public holdings of food stocks, India wants a visible solution by October that would include a dedicated Special Session of the Committee on Agriculture to arrive at a permanent solution by December 31.

India is of the view that the Trade Facilitation Agreement must be implemented only as part of a single undertaking including the permanent solution on food security, India stated in the WTOs general council meeting at its Geneva headquarters.

Last Decembers Bali Ministerial signalled the WTOs capability to deliver outcomes, India stated at the council, adding, however, that the countrys expectations have been completely belied by the developments after the Ministerial. A clear will to engage in areas of interest to developing countries is conspicuously absent. To make matters worse, persistent efforts are being made to subvert the mandate by divesting it of its core elements, India lamented.

Making its position clear, New Delhi said that the adoption of the TF Protocol the deadline for which is July 31 be postponed till a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security is found. The Bali outcomes were negotiated as a package and must be concluded as such. Timelines are important but we cannot afford to act in haste in the WTO ignoring the concerns expressed by members, Indias representative Anjali Prasad said at the council.

While India attaches importance to the stockholding issue given the new food security law, some experts, dismissed the countrys tough stance as misplaced brinkmanship given Indias food subsidies are well below the cap of 10% of the value of production.

It is, however, believed the TFA could potentially add $1 trillion to the world economy thanks to easing of customs procedures and trade infrastructure creation it mandates.

The 28-member European Union, which aggressively pitches for all WTO members signing the protocol on TFA by July 31, said on Thursday: A great opportunity to mobilise trade as an instrument for growth and development would be lost if the July 31 deadline is missed. The credibility of the WTO, which has during the financial crisis proven

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