India can play an important role in the coming months in engaging constructively to find a permanent solution to the food security issue at the WTO, the world trade body chief, Roberto Azevado, said today.
Speaking at the CII’s partnership summit in Jaipur, Azevedo who is the Director General of WTO, also said the member countries should implement the trade facilitation agreement on time as it would help in reducing cost of commerce and boosting exports.
“Members now have to work constructively together towards finding a permanent solution on this issue. We have a target date to conclude the negotiations of December this year. So we don’t have any time to lose. I look forward to India playing a leading role in this regard in the coming months,” he said.
The WTO chief also met Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman separately.
He said that developing countries played a significant role in the success of the Bali talks that took place in December 2013.
“The first decision, and clearly the most important for India, was a clarification of the Bali Decision on Public Stock holding for Food Security Purposes, namely to unequivocally state that the peace clause agreed in Bali would remain in force until a permanent solution is found,” he said.
The agreement on extension of ‘peace clause’ till perpetuity ensures the interest of the WTO membership in expeditiously working towards a permanent solution.
This would protect developing countries including India from the risk of having to accept an unsuitable solution under the threat of a limited duration peace clause coming to an end, he added.
Under the peace clause, a WTO member gets immunity against penalty for breaching the food subsidy cap. As per the WTO norms, a developing nation can provide food subsidy of up to 10 per cent of the total farm output value.
“In November, the impasse was finally resolved. And I want to acknowledge the role that India played in this – and particularly thank Minister Sitharaman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for showing the leadership which made this possible,” he added.
On TFA, Azevedo said that member countries are in the process of ratifying the pact. “It is estimated that the Agreement will reduce trade costs by up to 15 per cent in developing countries. And I think you are likely to see benefits in a number of ways, including from the boost that it will bring to south-south
trade,” Azevedo added.