‘This is the first harvest towards development’

Sharma said all existing and future schemes of public stock holding for food security will be covered.

Written by Express News Service | Published: December 7, 2013 2:07 am

With the Bali text of the World Trade Organization (WTO) finally accepting India’s concerns on food subsidy and public stockholding,commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said it will set a new agenda for the WTO’s trade talks. Excerpts from an interview with Surabhi.

How does the new WTO text impact India’s Food Security Act?

Food security is not part of the negotiations,it is a sovereign law. The new WTO text will help in the procurement of foodgrains as it ring fences us completely from any action on breaching de minimis,which we will cross after the implementation of the Food Security Act.

Will the package only support India’s food security programme or for all of the developing world?

We must consider it as a victory of Indian farmers and subsistence farmers across the world. It is also a recognition of the right of developing nations for public stock holding to provide food security to poor people. All existing and future schemes of public stock holding for food security will be covered.

Do you see it as a breakthrough in global trade talks that have largely been in favour of developed countries?

It is a path breaking decision and is the first major decision that has been reached since the establishment of the WTO. The previous negotiations were based on Uruguay Round of trade talks and were inherently imbalanced and flawed against developing countries. So it is imperative to launch the Doha Round,which is the development agenda. But the Doha Round was also not reaching anywhere. It took the ninth ministerial to reach the first agreement on agriculture. This is the first harvest of the only global trade talks that are dedicated to development.

With many of the African and South American countries providing support,has it opened new avenues and silenced critics that doubted the G-33?

We were able to build a very strong coalition of developing countries that showed solidarity during the negotiations even when doubts were raised,our strengths questioned and our capacity to withstand pressure put to a test. We have stood together and shown correctness of our resolve.

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