India refuses to ratify trade facilitation pact at WTO until its food security concerns are addressed

Geneva, July 26: India’s Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Anjali Prasad, has said that New Delhi will not be pressured into accepting easier customs rules from developed countries till its food subsidy concerns are addressed.

Prasad, who was addressing a specially convened meeting to approve the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Geneva on Friday, said that India was not in a position to risk the food security of millions, and therefore, demanded that the adoption of the TFA should be postponed till a permanent solution on public stock holding for food security is found.

New Delhi is demanding that the new agreement should be finalized only after WTO members accept the demand from several developing countries, led by India, to change the rules on government food subsidies.

Currently, the government has to cap food subsidy at 10 percent of the value of the production but the value is based on prices prevalent in 1986-88, which have increased many times since then. It will limit the ability of developing countries to maintain public stock holding of food grains, which not just benefits farmers but also helps in combating price fluctuations.

In December at Bali, WTO members had agreed to address India’s concerns. But the deal was drafted in a way that the TFA is finalized by July-end, while a final decision on food security and issues of concern to the least developed countries related was deferred for a later date. (ANI)