WTO: India seeks Africa's support, says a genuine fight for poor
New Delhi: India Wednesday said its tough stand at WTO is a "genuine fight" to provide food security to poor in the developing countries, while seeking Africa's support in the on the food security issue.
"Our friends from Africa have to be conscious of the fact that what is being perceived as a fight which is being undertaken by India is not a fight for purposes of protecting Indians interests.
"This is a fight which is a genuine fight, which is a fight which is at the root of an independent nations sovereign right to provide food security to its poor citizens," Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher said here at a CII function.
He was addressing representatives of the regional economic communities of Africa.
India's tough stand on the food security issue had led to collapse of the recent talks in Geneva.
India had refused to ratify WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement, which is dear to the developed world, without any concrete movement in finding a permanent solution to its public food stock-holding issue for food security purposes.
India had asked the WTO to amend the norms for calculating agri subsidies in order to procure foodgrains from farmers at minimum support price and sell that to poor at cheaper rates without attracting any penalty in the WTO.
The current WTO norms limit the value of food subsidies at 10 percent of the total value of food grain production. However, the support is calculated at the prices that are over two decades old.
India is asking for a change in the base year (1986-88) for calculating the food subsidies. It wants the change to current base year
Kher said that about 21 countries in the world including eight African countries have implemented programme on food security which is based on public stock holding.
"All the countries are exceeding their de-minimis level, a situation which India has not yet reached but may reach after some years," he said adding "many of these (21) countries are overshooting their de-minimis level".
He also said that there are rumours in Geneva that India is interested in dumping cheap food grains in Africa by claiming food security benefits under the WTO agreement on agriculture.
He clarified that there is a provision under which no country can export foodgrains from the pool of the public stock holding for food security purposes.
The Secretary said that in September, WTO would convene in Geneva and the negotiation process would start again.
"We look forward for the support from Africa," he said, adding, the African nation should be wary of the mis-interpretations and mis-informations spreading by the developed world.
He said several developing countries and least developing countries because of certain geo-strategic issues and different compulsions they are not coming open to support India's stand.