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At WTO meet, Prabhu seeks cut in large farm subsidies of developed nations

A two-day 'mini-ministerial' meet was organised in Morocco to agree on an agenda for the December summit

Subhayan Chakraborty  |  New Delhi 

Suresh Prabhu, Commerce and Industry Minister
Suresh Prabhu, Commerce and Industry Minister

Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu, commerce and industry minister, has called for a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding of foodgrain, at the Ministerial Conference in Argentine this December of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

At the 'mini-ministerial' meet in ending on Tuesday, the Indian government reiterated its stance saying, issues from the Doha Development Agenda needed to be uniformly reaffirmed.

In his first brush with the system and the 35 trade ministers from key economies, after taking charge as the country's commerce minister last month, led discussions on behalf of developing economies. He stressed that older issues based on agriculture should be sorted before member nations move on to newer issues such as a proposed set of global rules for the e-commerce industry.

The had called the two-day meet to agree on an agenda for the December summit, a senior commerce and industry ministry official said.

reiterated that the agreed objectives of the agriculture negotiations in the Doha Round should be respected, besides making a fresh call to avoid further widening of the existing imbalance between developed and developing countries. With over 600 million people dependent on agriculture in India, the government will be pushing the issue.

has emphasised that a permanent solution on public stockholding must be a part of the outcomes achieved, saying a solution on this issue would be key in ending hunger and achieving food security, as mandated in the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal-II.

Recently, and the European Union came come together on an offensive against given by to its farmers. They had targeted all forms of subsidies apart from those under the Minimum Support Price (MSP) scheme and called for a clampdown on export meant for public stockholding.

Developed countries provide huge subsidies to their own farmers, amounting to more than 90 per cent of global entitlements or nearly $160 billion. Pointing this out, and have jointly proposed a stop to this at the

A senior official said chief had privately agreed with India's positions. Both the contentious issues of public stockholding and a special safeguard mechanism in agriculture have not seen much progress at previous ministerial conferences.

Following India's agreement with the on the issue in 2013, the came up with the 'peace clause' that permitted uninterrupted implementation of India's programme until a permanent solution was found. This allows to procure and stock foodgrain for distribution to the poor without being penalised by the members, even if it breaches the 10 per cent subsidy cap prescribed by the multilateral trade body.

The Doha Development Agenda, adopted in 2001 at the fourth ministerial conference, has not seen much progress in the past 16 years.

First Published: Thu, October 12 2017. 01:30 IST