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‘India’s move for mini-ministerial after WTO collapse welcome’

December 19
22:16 2017

New Delhi, Dec 19 (IANS) The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) on Tuesday welcomed the Indian government’s decision to shortly hold a mini-ministerial meeting of 40 countries, following the deadlock at the 11th ministerial conference (MC11) of the WTO in Buenos Aires that concluded without an agreement.

The talks at the MC11 broke down last week week as the US reneged on its commitment, along with other countries, to find a permanent solution to the issue of public food stockholding by members of the multilateral trade body.

“Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) welcomes India’s proposal to hold a mini-ministerial meeting of 40 countries early next year, which share the same views and perceptions of India on various multilateral issues to evolve a collective consensual approach,” an IACC release said here.

“This will send strong message to the developed world that WTO forum should not be used for promoting unilateral and partisan interests,” it said.

Announcing earlier on Tuesday that India would be organising a multilateral ministerial meeting in a few weeks time to discuss moving ahead after the collapse of the Buenos Aires talks, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said the World Trade Organisation (WTO) risked becoming irrelevant if it only focuses on issues of interest to the developed world.

The WTO talks collapsed in Buenos Aires after Assistant US Trade Representative Sharon Bomer Lauritsen declared in a small group meeting that a permanent solution to the food stockholding issue was not acceptable to America.

Under the WTO norms, a member-country’s food subsidy bill should not breach the limit of 10 per cent of the value of production based on the reference price of 1986-88.

India has been seeking amendments to this formula, fearing that full implementation of its food security programme may result in breaching of the WTO subsidy limit.

The 2013 WTO ministerial meeting in Indonesia’s Bali had decided to put in place a “Peace Clause” as an interim measure, and had agreed to negotiate a permanent solution at the 11th ministerial conference in the Argentinian capital.

“One should not fix the threshold of the food stockholding using 1986-88 as the base year, as is presently being done. Output subsidy along with input subsidy extended to agricultural inputs like fertilizers, power and irrigation, among others will easily surpass the 10 per cent stipulation set in accordance with the threshold fixed in 1986-88,” IACC National President Vasant Subramayan said in the statement.

At the Buenos Aires ministerial, India continued to press for the reduction of farm subsidies by developed countries and resisted inclusion of new issues on the negotiating table like e-commerce and investment facilitation into the ongoing Doha Round of talks that have a developmental agenda in case these dilute the commitment to complete the existing agenda.

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