In his maiden visit to India after taking charge as WTO Director General, Roberto Azevedo said food security was a complex issue and it was likely to be discussed in details during the ministerial meeting at Bali, Indonesia.
"We will try to find a solution between now and the ministerial conference in Bali. And until we reach a solution, it would be premature to say what the nature of that solution is," Azevedo, who is from Brazil, said while addressing a joint media conference with India's Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.
"But we will try to find an outcome which all sides, all members believe is a balanced outcome. And an outcome which is in the interest of all of them," he said.
India needs at least 62 million tonnes of food grain per year to implement the newly enacted food security law that entitles nearly two-third of the population with 5 kg of food grain per month at the rate of Rs.1-3 per kg.
Azevedo said the initial proposal on food security, which was tabled by the G-33 (Group of 33 poor countries), was immediately rejected by many countries for various reasons.
"Now I think we made a lot of progress since that point in time. I think that from, up from rejection, we now are building the environment for a very constructive engagement that we would try to address this issue in a positive manner," he said.
Sharma said a solution to the G-33 proposal would be an important contribution by the WTO towards addressing the challenges of food security in developing countries.
He pointed out that public stockholding programmes are widely used to ensure food security in many developing countries where agriculture is largely rainfed.
"Updating of the rules would greatly help these countries in carrying out such operations without defaulting on their commitments," Sharma said.
Sharma urged the WTO chief to persuade all parties to discuss the food security proposal constructively.
"Developing countries are finding themselves hamstrung by the existing rules in running their food stockholding and domestic food aid programmes," he said.
The WTO chief is visiting New Delhi to seek India's support for a positive outcome of the Bali ministerial meeting.
Later, addressing an event organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Azevedo said: "Although Bali is a priority, it is not the end of the road. We are talking about taking the first step. At Bali, what we want is a long term strategy to govern global trade for the benefit of all nations."
On possible outcome of the Bali meeting, the WTO Chief said, "A balanced agreement would emerge when at the end of the day, everyone said we gave more than we could and got less than what we deserve."
--IANS (Posted on 07-10-2013)