'No compromise on food security even if subsidy cap is broken'

Anand Sharma also said that India will remain positively engaged with the other WTO members on farm subsidy and other issues, including Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

PTI| Updated: Nov 29, 2013, 20:21 PM IST

New Delhi: With only four days to go for the WTO meet in Bali, India today asserted that it will not compromise its stance on food security of poor and support to marginal farmers even if subsidy limits are breached.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, country's chief negotiator at WTO, also said India will engage with WTO members for a positive outcome of Bali meet, but at the same time New Delhi will strive for permanent immunity from actions against breach of farm subsidy.

"There are issues which are of paramount importance to India. India will secure and protect the right to food security of the poor people and India will defend its resource for poor and subsistence farmers. These are issues on which India shall never compromise," Sharma told reporters here.

Developed countries like US and Canada have raised apprehensions that food stockpiling exercise of
India and other developing nations to implement food security plans will breach the 10 percent subsidy cap under the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture (AoA).

They have suggested a four-year 'peace clause' as an interim solution. During this period, no WTO member will attract penalty even if 10 percent cap is broken.

G-33, which includes 46 emerging nations including India, have strongly rejected the interim solution.

Sharma demanded a permanent solution to the issue.

"We are also very clear that interim solution means interim solution until a permanent solution is put in place. In Bali, India expects all countries to commit to negotiating all issues for a permanent solution.

"As far as what we give to our poor people, that is our right and that is insulated in entirety from any multilateral or WTO negotiations. That is the sovereign space and for India it is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. India has never agreed when it comes to this particular aspect to be made part of any multilateral discussions," he said.

Sharma said AoA needs to be amended for calculation of 10 percent subsidy cap as it is not relevant in the current situation. The cap was calculated on price band of 1986-88.

The Bali Ministerial of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is schedule for December 3-6.