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India, China, Brazil stand firm on food subsidy at WTO
December 4, 2013, 6:21 am

In Bali, Anand Sharma (center), Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, told the WTO meeting that food security is essential for 4 billion people in the world [PIB India]

In Bali, Anand Sharma (center), Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, told the WTO meeting that food security is essential for 4 billion people in the world [PIB India]

BRICS members, India, China and Brazil have rallied at the WTO trade negotiations in Bali to prioritise food subsidies for the poor.

India on Wednesday said that food security is a non-negotiable issue.

In Bali, Anand Sharma, Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, told the WTO meeting that food security is essential for 4 billion people in the world.

“For India, food is non-negotiable,” said Sharma.

The minister said the continuing stalemate of the Doha Round of talks has led to frustration and cynicism when this was the only round devoted to the development agenda.

“Agriculture sustains millions of subsistence farmers. Their interests must be secured. Food security is essential for over four billion people of the world. For India, food security is non-negotiable. Need of public stock-holding of foodgrains to ensure food security must be respected. Dated WTO rules need to be corrected,” he said.

China and India have been backed by the G-33, group of 46-member developing nations in a proposal to amend the WTO Agreement on Agriculture in order to procure foodgrains from poor farmers at minimum support price and sell to poor people at cheap rates through public distribution system.

“Since joining the WTO, China has always given priority to support the developing members of the WTO, in particular the least developed countries,” said Chinese commerce minister Gao Hucheng.

Meanwhile, Brazilian Trade Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado too said that food security is an important element for developing countries.

“We had hoped for more…since agriculture is where we find maximum distortions. I must emphasise the central importance of agriculture,” Machado said.

The WTO ministers’ meeting, with the participation of trade chiefs of the organization’s 159 members and other 10,000 diplomats from more than 160 countries and regions, is struggling to revive the long-stalled Doha Round by reaching a possible trade deal.

“It feels like the WTO has been through a long dark night,” said WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo in his opening statement.

The new Brazilian chief of the WTO has been urging all- out efforts to ensure a successful outcome in Bali since taking up his position in September.

“The world will not wait for the WTO indefinitely. It will move on and will move on with choices that will not be as efficient or as inclusive,” Azevedo had warned earlier in September.

Should the deal be signed in Bali, it could not only boost global gross domestic product by $960 billion, but also brings about an increase of $570 billion in exports and 18 million jobs for developing countries, according to an earlier report from the International Chamber of Commerce.

 

Source: Agencies

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