‘Unhappy’ India might not block WTO protocol

But wants talks on food security to progress at the same pace as trade facilitation

By Rajit Sengupta
Published: Friday 18 July 2014

Developing nations, including India, are unhappy with rich countries for not addressing their concerns on food subsidies in the trade facilitation agreement clinched in Bali last year

Though unhappy with the food subsidy talks at international levels, India is likely to support the WTO’s Protocol of Amendment to implement a global trade pact next month, says trade secretary Rajeev Kher.

WTO (World Trade Organization) members struck trade facilitation agreement (TFA) at Bali last year, but the agreement has run into trouble ahead of a July 31 deadline for the protocol, with developing nations, including India, being unhappy with rich countries for not addressing their concerns on food subsidies.

India has criticised the pact for putting trade facilitation ahead of a compromise on agricultural subsidies, a crucial issue as India stockpiles food for its poor. The disagreement over subsidies had raised fears that India would not ratify the pact reached in Bali, derailing the latest effort to free up to $1 trillion in global trade flows.
But Kher on Thursday told reporters that progress on food stockpiling was not a condition for signing the protocol. He, however, reiterated India’s position that its concerns on food stock piles should be addressed along with trade facilitation. “We are not saying there should be no deal. We are simply asking them to address our concerns,” Kher said.

TFA aims at simplifying customs procedure and reducing transactions cost for international trade. Developed countries, including the US, are pushing for it to bolster their sagging economies through an unhindered international trade.

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