India’s no compromise on food security could scuttle WTO free-trade pact

Australia’s Minister for Trade Andrew Robb with India’s Minister of Commerce & Industry Nirmala Sitharaman at the G-20 trade ministers meet in Sydney. PHOTO:

By Neeraj Nanda

Melbourne, 21 July: The chances of India backing the WTO brokered ‘Trade Facilitation Agreement’ (TFA) a trade deal struck in Bali (3-7 December, 2013) looks difficult as the deadline for its adoption is 31st July.

India’s stand has been that it is committed to the TFA but is not ready to compromise on the issue of food security.

This uncertainty over India’s views came to light when Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb revealed during a media conference at the recently held G-20 trade ministers meet in Sydney that there were concerns by India and some African countries regarding food security.

“So, the capacity to adopt those food security measures exists and if it’s not resolved by 2017, which everyone feels that it certainly will be, but it just goes on. So, that was a comfort factor that has been there for India but they have raised this concern and everyone around the table gave a country commitment that they expected every one of the measures to be properly introduced and India also said that they still remain fully committed to the full package and the timetable but still expressed reservations about what is the process to ensure that their issue is properly addressed, “Mr. Robb said answering to a journalists question.

“There is absolutely no change in India’s position,” India’s commerce secretary Rajeev Kher has said.
The ‘Trade Facilitation Agreement’ is part of the Bali Package with provisions for lowering import tariffs and agriculture subsidies.

Earlier, business leaders attending a B-20 conference in Sydney urged India to accept the reforms.

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