India wants to relax WTO food export rules

India will influence the World Trade Organization (WTO) to allow countries to export foodgrains from government reserves through official agreements to help countries address food shortages and provide humanitarian assistance, senior Commerce Ministry officials said on Monday.

Currently, WTO rules make it difficult for a country to export grain from official grain stocks if these are procured from producers at a fixed price (minimum support price, in the case of India) rather than the market rate.

At the forthcoming 12th WTO ministerial level from June 12, New Delhi will also resist bids from 70-80 countries, led by Singapore, which is obliged to exempt only food items purchased by the UN World Food Program (WFP) from any internal restrictions on exports. . The group includes countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Any such move, India fears, would tie its hands to supply to other countries on humanitarian grounds – especially neighboring and some African countries like Afghanistan and Bangladesh – when an internal embargo is imposed. India has recently imposed a ban on wheat exports but has kept the window open for supply to the needy through government-to-government contracts.

Official sources further stressed that India has always focused on WFP demand for food items and will continue to do so. But limiting the scope of the policy to just allowing WFP purchases would be too narrow to address a major problem, such as global food shortages. Therefore, if any such waiver is given to WFP, it should be extended to government supply from the government as well, India thinks.

For this purpose, New Delhi is garnering the support of like-minded countries At the next WTO ministerial level, talks are under way to launch a joint proposal on behalf of 70-80 countries, including the G-33 and African countries.

WFP works in more than 120 countries and territories to provide food to people displaced by conflict or displaced by disaster.

Discipline on domestic farm subsidies

As rich countries ask developing countries like India to cut their farm subsidies, New Delhi will highlight that any meaningful reform in agriculture must first reduce the huge amount of subsidies given to its farmers by the developed world. The discrepancy between the goal developed and developing economies should not be further expanded, an official quoted above said.

However, the United States and the EU are not involved in negotiations to cut their internal subsidies, he added.

According to a previous study submitted to the WTO by India, China and others, US domestic aid to farmers in 2016 was $ 60,586, 267 times that of India ($ 227), while Beijing’s support ($ 863) is almost four times that of New Delhi.

The 12th Ministerial Conference will highlight issues such as the Fisheries Resources Reduction Treaty, the WTO’s response to the epidemic, including patent waivers, WTO reform, food security and e-commerce.

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