Blaming the UPA regime for agreeing on an “imperfect agreement” at WTO meet in Bali, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said Western countries find the stand taken by India as reasonable privately, but tend to complain publicly.
“Privately when we tell the visiting dignitaries that this is our stand, they find it very reasonable but I find statements in the press that they issue later on, that ‘India can be more reasonable’,” Jaitley said here late this evening, at an event hosted by the Indian Express group.
All the major powers of the world, including the US have criticised India for the hard stance which has resulted in the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement not getting passed by the July 31 deadline.
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Jaitley criticised the previous UPA regime for agreeing to go ahead with the agreement at the trade minister’s meet at Bali in December last year.
“What were we doing at Bali when this was being done? And we came back home and tom-tomed Bali as a great victory. I had written a blog saying if Bali is accepted, the farce we have enacted by the Food Security Act stands repealed because you won’t have food to distribute,” he said.
He reiterated that the country’s basic concerns stand around protecting the Indian farmer, impacted because of the West’s agri subsidies, and feeding the poor.
Jaitley said: “All we have done is because Bali was an imperfect agreement, all that we are doing is, please go ahead with trade facilitation. The Bali accord says there will be a peace clause for 5 years, and we will come to a final settlement on the food stock holding agreement.
“The peace clause should continue till the disputes are settled, and that’s a clear stance we have taken.”
He added however that India is not averse to the trade facilitation agreement.
Meanwhile, Jaitely said that the high food inflation will always be a challenge and called it as a top priority for the government to tackle.
He pointed out however that there is a lot of seasonal element and good policies alone can’t help reduce inflation.