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India may sign WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement

By Natasha Chaku
November 10, 2014 17:00 IST
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WTOIndia may finally sign the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement following discussions with the US on the details of an indefinite ‘peace clause’ on food security, according to a research paper discussing the effectiveness of the upcoming G20 summit.

The study paper by Melbourne-based think-tank Australia India Institute titled 'The G20: Challenges and opportunities Ahead', said following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US and his talks with US President Barack Obama, India may finally sign the agreement.

"As a part of a revised proposal, India and the US are reported to be discussing the details of an indefinite peace clause on food security until a permanent solution is found," it said ahead of the G20 summit in Brisbane starting November 16.

Prime Minister Modi is also attending the summit.

"A peace clause would give legal security to member countries and protect them from challenges under other WTO agreements," the paper said.

It cited that the G20, with its Doha Lite package, ensured the success of the World Trade Organisation Bali Ministerial Meeting.

"Though the legal texts and technical parameters, including rules are still to be finalised, the meeting succeeded in addressing the core concerns of emerging and developing countries on maintaining public stockpiles of foodgrain for sale to poorer citizens at subsidised prices beyond permissible subsidy limits, in anticipation of a permanent solution," it said.

"Some obstacles remain. India is trying to stall implementation of the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement, agreed to in Bali and has tied ratification of the agreement to a permanent solution to the contentious issue of public stockpiling of food grains," it added.

The paper also highlighted that the G20 in Brisbane this month would be dominated by the issues of financial sector regulation, trade facilitation measures, protectionism, infrastructure investment and tax policy coordination.

"The G20, as a genuine summit of national leaders, can credibly implement meaningful measures.

“What is, however, desirable is a more focussed approach to increased economic growth across member nations, especially after the US financial crisis," it said.

It also sought for strengthening the G20 and that it should be upgraded from a forum to an institution, in a bid to make implementating difficult measures such as structural reform easier and more effective.

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Natasha Chaku in Melbourne
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