WTO deal on MSP for farm produce is a win for India's farmers: Anand Sharma

Bali (Indonesia), Dec.7 : India has accepted a WTO draft proposal that will allow countries to provide subsidy on staple food crops without any threat of punitive action.

That the WTO has issued a revised draft of the Bali package and addressed India's concerns on food security, is being seen as a major victory for New Delhi.

India secured its viewpoint on the issue of food security after four days of tough negotiations.

The 159-member WTO reached a historic agreement that will boost global trade by a trillion dollars.
The deal allows nations such as India to fix a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farm produce and to sell staple grains to the poor at subsidised rates.

It also permits countries to store food grains to meet contingency requirements.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who represented India at the WTO negotiations said, it was a great day for India.

"I view this as the victory of the farmers of India, of the farmers who are subsistence farmers, resource poor farmers of the entire developing countries, and there has also been a coalition of developing countries that India was able to put together along with its partners which withstood all pressures, demonstrated solidarity and achieved this," said Sharma.

"Well this is a historic day because the voice of the poor and the developing countries has been heard and with respect. India had persisted throughout the negotiations that the right of countries to public stock holding for food security must be recognised, must be secured," he added.

India will next year fully implement a welfare programme to give cheap food to 800 million people and stockpile in the name of food security that, it fears, will contravene WTO rules that limit farm subsidies to 10 percent of production.

The programme relies on large-scale stockpiling and procurement at minimum prices and is a central plank of the government's bid to win a third term in office next year.

In this crucial meeting, officials of WTO were hopeful to push through the first multilateral agreement that will force all WTO members to make their customs procedures public and predictable, ensure quicker passage for goods in transit and make sure the fees for crossing borders were reasonable.

Despite the Trade Facilitation that is likely to boast world economy up to a trillion dollar, a text for it was failed to deliver last week due to specific local political issues.

Negotiators say Argentina and Cuba are among those with issues outstanding, but that the key stumbling block is India.

--ANI (Posted on 07-12-2013)

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