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India to pitch for permanent solution to food security issue at WTO

December 14, 2015 14:47 IST

Backed by several developing countries, India will strongly pitch for finding a permanent solution to the food security issue and a mechanism to protect poor farmers from surge in imports at the WTO meeting of 160 trade ministers', beginning here tomorrow.

During the four-day meet, India wants the multi-lateral body to deliberate on pending issues of the Doha Round and deliverables of the Bali package, including issues of the least developed countries.

"Focus of the deliberations will include issues relating to continuance of the Doha negotiating mandate; finding a permanent solution to the issue of public stock holding for food security; special safeguard measures," an official said.

The negotiations, launched at the Qatari capital in 2001 and known as the Doha Round, has missed several deadlines for conclusion due to wide differences over the issue of giving protection to poor farmers and the extent to open the markets for industrial goods.

India has reiterated that members have spent over a decade on the Doha Round and it should not be kept hanging.

"I am going with an open mind and positive approach. If everybody has agreed on something in Bali, it should be our duty to deliver on that. And permanent solution was part of that Bali package," Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said.

However, experts are a little apprehensive about the positive outcome from this meeting as the rich nations are keen to abandon old issues and negotiate new matters such as government procurement and investments.

"We will face tremendous pressure to hold our ground on the Doha issues including the special safeguard mechanism. But this is very important for livelihood of our poor farmers," Biswajit Dhar, a professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said.

On the other hand, in a letter to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has encouraged WTO members to show their political will and necessary flexibilities to deliver a successful outcome.

Rajesh Rai
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