Demand of early conclusion of food subsidy issue
Commerce Minister said she would soon take up with World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevêdo the need to ensure that processes on outstanding issues including on food security of the WTO’s Doha Round negotiations are completed before the December 2017 Ministerial Conference (MC) in Argentina.
What is the issue on food subsidy?
Certain nations claim that food subsidy given by India is outside the permissible limits allowed under WTO. Thus, it amounts to distortion of trade. In the sense that food subsidy favours domestic agricultural output over international output.
India opposes this allegation and argues that its food subsidy to facilitate public stockholding of foodgrains is justified on following grounds:
1. The absolute amount of subsidies is large but per capita level of food subsidy is very small.
2. Food subsidy is given to facilitate most basic requirement of people, i.e. food.
3. The amount of permissible subsidy allowed under WTO is based on 19868-88 prices. However, prices of agricultural commodities have undergone sufficient revision after that.
Opposition to introduction of new issues
The Minister also said India was very clear on its stand that ‘new issues’ including e-commerce and investment cannot be brought into the formal agenda of the WTO-level negotiations on liberalisation of global trade without consensus among all the WTO members.
About the ministerial conference
The topmost decision-making body of the WTO is the Ministerial Conference, which usually meets every two years. It brings together all members of the WTO.. The Ministerial Conference can take decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements.