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New US WTO proposal on food stockpiling

The US has come up with a new WTO proposal to find a permanent solution to food stockpiling after the earlier one was contested by the so-called Group of 33 countries, including India.



Geneva: The US has come up with a new WTO proposal to find a permanent solution to food stockpiling after the earlier one was contested by the so-called Group of 33 countries, including India.

In the second dedicated session this year to clinch a deal to the factious issue of food stockpiling, the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation (WTO) saw the G-33 rejecting a proposal by the US which comprises three main elements.

They were reviewing efficacy and trade effects of existing food security programs and the extent to which they meet their goals, evaluating the real and potential problems encountered in implementing food security programs because of constraints in the existing WTO rules and drawing from the best practices and recommendations on food stockpiling.

Best practices in food stockpiling would include programs in states that are most economical, targeted and effective and ones that are not trade distorting and have enhanced transparency.

India said the the US proposal may result in an outcome where countries are advised as to what kind of food security programs they should adopt which is not part of the existing mandate. In trying to address the food security issue vis-a-vis the proposal one of the outcomes could be a decision on public stockholding whereas the mandate is the other way round, India argued.

Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the G-33 countries which also includes China and the Philippines, said that the real issue is getting a permanent solution not to engage in an academic program or to expand the mandate to review existing programs.

The informal meeting also saw the playing out of the old hardened battle lines between the proponents of the G-33 proposal and the opponents of it.

The G-33 proposal suggests to amend the Agriculture Amendment to provide new flexibilities, for programs when governments buy food from low-income farmers at supported prices to build up stocks, to be shifted from the Amber Box all domestic support measures considered to distort production and trade to the Green Box subsidies that do not distort trade or cause minimum distortion.

The EU along with Australia and some other countries have called for maintaining the "integrity of the Green Box" and keeping the "Green Box, Green".

One of the suggestions to the logjam was a solution on the basis of the calculation of Aggregate Measurement Support (AMS) the base period for which is still the 1986-88 prices India has been arguing that this has made it increasingly difficult for developing countries to stay within the WTO-prescribed limits.

An interim peace clause was brokered last year in November, when India had blocked the global Trade Facilitation Agreement to find a solution to the stockpiling logjam, which protected developing countries from legal consequences if it exceeded its Amber Box limits as a result of stockholding for food security.

India also suggested a new Friend of the Chair to expedite the process of finding a solution before the end of the year as "time is running out".

From Zee News

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