A day after a breakthrough deal between India and the US on food security related issues, the WTO on Friday said there was a "high probability" of reaching an agreement within two weeks on the stalled Bali package to facilitate easier global trade flows.
"I would say that we have a high probability that the Bali package will be implemented very shortly," WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo told reporters here on the eve of the G20 summit, to be attended by world leaders including US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The WTO related matters are likely to come up for discussions during this two-day meet beginning on Saturday.
"I'm hopeful that we can do it in a very short period of time, certainly within the next two weeks," he said.
India on Thursday achieved a major breakthrough with the US agreeing to its proposal on food security issues at WTO, a development that will pave the way for ending a three-month long stalemate on Trade Facilitation Agreement at the multi-lateral trade body.
As per the agreement, the US will support India's proposal at WTO that 'peace clause', crucial for uninterrupted implementation of India's food security programme, should continue indefinitely till a permanent solution is found.
This will enable India to continue procurement and stocking of food grain for distribution to poor under its food security programme without attracting any kind of action from WTO members even if it breaches the 10 per cent subsidy cap as prescribed by the multilateral trade body.
As per the Bali agreement, the peace clause was to continue till 2017. The differences on the public stock holding of foodgrains between the developed countries led by the US and developing nations including India led to impasse over ratification of the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) at Geneva in July.
This agreement -- which the organisation's 160 members failed to reach agreement on in July -- is crucial to ensuring the WTO's relevance. "Yesterday, I received very positive news that the US and India had reached an understanding that will help us overcome the stalemate," he said.
"I strongly welcome this development and I applaud the leadership that has been shown by India and US to move the process forward."
"I think this breakthrough with the US and India is very important," he said, adding that they were the key players at the heart of the impasse in July.
"The chances that we can in Geneva, with everybody, with all other WTO members, finalise this understanding are very significant," he said.