Emphasising that India will stay firm on the issue of public stock-holding of food crops for food security, the government on Thursday urged World Trade Organization (WTO) member nations to work on consolidating the Doha development agenda even as it resisted any expansion of the negotiating agenda at the ministerial meeting in Nairobi later this month.
Elaborating on the four main issues that India will focus on in the ministerial meeting beginning December 15, commerce secretary Rita Teotia said that the issue of agriculture has “deepest implication for millions of people around the world”.
“What we are looking at Nairboi are … the Doha Round must not be abandoned at Nairobi. It’s true that we have rough patches, there are difficulties. But it is inevitable in a body as large as this…What we would look for is to consolidate what we have achieved so far and then move forward… the other issue is permanent solution on public stock-holding for food security. This is an issue which large number of countries have an interest,” she said at a WTO interaction organised by Ficci here.
Stressing on the fact that the issue of agriculture development is in convergence with the main objective of economic policy in a developing country — growth, stability and poverty alleviation — she said that India’s stance on policies involving agriculture, food and market access will remain unchanged. While developed countries including the US, Australia, the EU oppose public stock-holding of food crops, it is crucial for India’s food security programme. The developed countries want to cap the minimum support price and reduce the subsidies for fertilisers et al given to farmers.
Raising concerns that developed nations want to “stonewall” the issues which are already on the table and introduce new one, she said that India will pitch for conclusion of Doha Round, permanent solution to the food security issue and protection to farmers from sudden surge in imports in the ministerial.
“There is an effort now to introduce new issues on the table and try to expand the mandate without addressing the issues which are already under discussion. We have one group of countries who appears to be stonewalling the engagement on substantive negotiations on the issues,” she said.
The third issue which is important for India and other developing countries is protecting the interest of poor and subsistence farmers. Further, the package for least developed countries is also among the top priority for the country, she said.