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India Inc backs Govt stance on food subsidy at WTO

PTI | Last Updated: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 19:58

New Delhi: Backing the government's stance on food subsidy at the WTO, India Inc Wednesday said it is important to ensure legal entitlement of low-cost ration to the poor in order to achieve all-round development.

"For us in India, we have to ring-fence the interest of subsistence farmers and poor by procuring grains at minimum support price (MSP) and ensuring legal entitlement of low-cost ration to the poor," Assocham President Rana Kapoor said.

"It is only when Indian farmers and the consumers are protected that the industry and trade can flourish. We cannot aspire to build a nation by compromising interest of the vulnerable sections of our society," Kapoor said.

India is demanding an amendment to the Agreement in Agriculture of WTO in order to implement its food security law. The US and EU are opposing any such amendment.

As per the WTO norms, a developing nation can provide food subsidy of up to 10 percent of the total farm output.

According to media reports, negotiators in Geneva, (the WTO headquarter) failed to sort out differences yesterday on issues like trade facilitation and food security ahead of the Ministerial Conference in Bali.

India is in the process of implementing the Food Security Act, which entitles 82 crore people to 5 kgs of foodgrains per person in a month at the rate of Rs 1-3 per kg. The country needs 62 million tonnes of foodgrains in a year to implement the law.

Developed countries like the US and Canada have raised concerns over India's food security legislation at the WTO. They have asked India to explain the effect of the law on global stocks and commodity prices.

"We call upon the Trade Ministers to step up engagement so that it is possible to have a trade deal in the Bali Ministerial of the WTO. This would be critical in the interest of multilateralism and towards taking the Doha development agenda forward," FICCI President Naina Lal Kidwai said.

"It is important that we do not lose this opportunity to break the stalemate in Doha talks and that we are successful in building on the progress achieved so far in the areas of trade facilitation, agriculture including public stockholding for food security and development issues," Kidwai said.

Diplomats from the World Trade Organisation's 159 members had been trying to forge an agreement before a trade ministers' meeting next week in Bali, Indonesia. Achieving a deal in Bali is seen as a final effort to revive a broader 12-year effort to ease global trade rules.

The 9th WTO Ministerial Conference will be held in Bali from December 3-6.

First Published: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 19:57
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