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India’s Union Minister Piyush Goyal pleads for permanent food security solution with WTO Director-General

On the sidelines of the 12th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland on Sunday, Union Trade Minister Piyush Goyal held talks with WTO Director General, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, prospects for a permanent solution to public problems. storage for food safety.

During the ministerial meeting of the G33, a coalition of developing countries of which India is a key member, Minister Piyush Goyal also held in-depth talks with his counterparts from developing and least developed countries.

Taking to Twitter, Goyal wrote, “Fighting for our farmers’ rights within an hour of landing at the WTO, Geneva, during the G33 Ministerial Meeting. Discussed prospects for a permanent solution to public stockholding for food security with DG Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and my counterparts from developing and least developed countries.”

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In addition, Commerce and Industry Minister Goyal will also meet with United States of America Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

The ministerial meeting kicked off in Geneva, Switzerland on Sunday after a five-year hiatus.

The Indian delegation to the meeting is led by Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. “India has a vital interest in protecting the interests of all stakeholders in the country as well as the interests of developing and poor countries who look to India’s leadership in multilateral fora, including the WTO. “, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry earlier. in a report.

The main areas of discussions and negotiations at this year’s conference include the WTO’s response to the pandemic, negotiations on fisheries subsidies, agricultural issues including public stockholding for food security, WTO reforms and the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmission.

The WTO Director-General presented in May 2022 three draft texts on agriculture, trade and food security and the World Food Program exemption from export restrictions for negotiations.

“India has reservations on some of the provisions of the draft decisions and has engaged in the process of discussions and negotiations so that it can preserve rights under the agriculture deal without undermining ministerial mandates. existing ones,” the Commerce Department said. & Industry added.

An important issue under negotiation at the WTO concerns the protection of India’s program of purchases of food grains at minimum support prices (MSP).

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These programs involve buying from farmers at administered prices and are key to supporting farmers and consumers nationwide. WTO rules limit the subsidy that can be given to these purchased products.

This issue is being negotiated at the WTO by the G-33, a coalition of developing countries of which India is a key member and the African Group which has joined with countries from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP Group) to submit a proposal for a permanent solution to the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes on 31 May 2022.

India co-sponsored a G-33 proposal for a permanent solution on PSH for food security purposes at the WTO on September 15, 2021, which was co-sponsored by 38 members.

In the negotiations, improvements are sought by developing countries compared to the Ministerial Decision adopted at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali in December 2013, where members agreed to negotiate a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes by the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference.

It was agreed that in the meantime, until a permanent solution is found, Members would exercise restraint (commonly referred to as the “peace clause”) when raising disputes over stockholding programs for food security purposes instituted before December 7, 2013, even if countries exceeded their authorized limits.

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Following India’s strong stance at the WTO, this peace clause was extended by a decision of the General Council (GC) of the WTO in November 2014 until a permanent solution was agreed and adopted.

Thus, it was assured that the “peace clause” would be available in perpetuity. At the Nairobi Ministerial Conference held in December 2015, WTO members agreed to engage constructively to negotiate a permanent solution.

India does not want to link the issue of public stockholding (PSH) to other agricultural issues or a work program as negotiating a permanent solution has a stand-alone mandate in the WTO, said the Ministry.

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Post expires at 2:13pm on Wednesday June 22nd, 2022