India says procurement helped in food security

Slamming the US, the European Union, Japan, Australia and Brazil, which are seeking to limit spending on procurement of rice and wheat by agencies such as FCI, India has asked them to shed their “arrogance” and agree to reforming the global trade regime, as its public procurement scheme had helped feed a large population by ensuring food security.
At a WTO meeting in Geneva, Indian officials argued that its procurement programme has not only helped it feed its population but also become an exporter and also provide nearly 200 tonnes of wheat to its neighbours during the pandemic. Besides, its stock of rice helped provide additional food to the poor.

“Gone are the days when we were the discipline taker and we had no knowledge and wisdom to talk about a subject that concerns us. (The days when some said) You are not good enough to think good about yourself have gone and (that mindset) will come in the way of the success of MC13 (next year’s 13th ministerial conference),” an Indian official was quoted as saying in Geneva.

For over a decade, India has been battling these countries at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to lift the cap on public stockholding by developing nations, an issue that has united 80 countries including China, South Africa and Indonesia. The current formula links the quantity procured with an outdated external reference price, opening the doors for developing nations to be hauled up for breaching the ceiling.

While a decision to have a temporary “peace clause” that prevents any country being dragged to WTO was taken in 2013, developed countries have blocked reworking the formula and use it as a negotiating tool to push their agenda. The 80 countries are pushing for a decision to be taken at the WTO ministerial meeting next February.
At the meeting, sources said, the US WTO members needed to “walk back” from the Bali interim decision with more safeguard measures to control the potential negative effects of overspilled stocks on the international market.

This article has been republished from The Times of India

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