India will protect farmers' interests: Sitharaman
Posted on Aug 05 2014 | IANS
New Delhi, Aug 5 : The government Tuesday said it is confident that India will be able to persuade members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) appreciate its stand regarding the welfare of farmers.
"India is committed to protecting the interests of our farmers against all odds," Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed the Lok Sabha.
She said the government stood firm on its demands despite immense pressure in the recent WTO General Council meeting to wrap up trade facilitation agreement.
Sitharaman was making a statement on India's position at the WTO trade talks in Geneva.
India, she said, wanted to ensure that WTO worked impartially and fairly in the interest of all its members and not just a select few.
Negotiators at the WTO failed to agree on the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) as the deadline of July 31 passed.
The TFA, a global reform of customs procedures, is aimed at improving efficiency of trade across borders that were agreed at the WTO's 9th ministerial conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December last year.
India's unyielding stance that the TFA and the agreement of food stockpiling are part of the same package which got the talks collapsed.
Sitharaman said: "India stood firm on its demands despite immense pressure. Despite India's efforts, our concerns were not satisfactorily addressed."
"We offered practical suggestions for a way forward," she said, adding that the issue of permanent solution on public stockholding was a simple one.
"India must have freedom to use food reserves to feed the poor without threat of violating any international obligations," she said, adding that issues of development and food security are critical and cannot be sacrificed to mercantilist considerations.