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Ahead of WTO meet, SJM presses for ‘permanent solution’ on food security, public stockholding

Ahead of the 13th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) pitched for a “permanent solution” on food security and public stockholding. In the 9th ministerial conference in Bali in December 2013, a decision on public stockholding for food security purposes was taken. Members agreed to put in place an “interim mechanism” and to negotiate on an agreement for a permanent solution applicable to all developing countries, SJM said in a statement.

“After Bali, the first proposal for a permanent solution came from India along with other countries of the G-33 (developing countries) in July 2014, which essentially demanded to move public stockholding for food security into the ‘Green Box’. The proposal also called for a permanent solution,” SJM said.

“Green Box” supports are allowed without any limit because they do not distort trade or do so minimally, but it explicitly excludes price support.

“A good number of years have passed since then and countries like India are still waiting for a permanent solution on food security and public stockholding to arrive at the WTO.” SJM said a recent UN report has “confirmed” that hunger has increased in the world post COVID-19 pandemic and poor countries are in dire need of affordable food for the survival of their population. Wars have “aggravated” the scarcity of food for a large number of countries in the world, he said.

“We strongly support the proposal of the Africa group, countries of G-33 along with India for a permanent solution as well as undoing the wrong done at WTO initial agreements, when the base years were kept at 1986-88 for the purpose of calculation of agriculture subsidies,” SJM said. Other issues relating to agriculture such as market access, special safeguard mechanism, export competition and transparency should be postponed till the issues related to agreement on permanent solution and public stockholding for food security are resolved, SJM added.

The SJM noted that the current moratorium on custom duty on electronic transfer is “extremely” against the interests of developing countries in general and India in particular. This is not only impacting 7job creation in the electronic sector, but also the revenue generation, it added.

“Therefore, we strongly recommend to end this moratorium as also proposed by South Africa. It is worthwhile to mention that If the moratorium is not extended by the members, it will lapse automatically. We urge upon the Government of India to use its diplomatic channels to let the moratorium lapse in this ministerial,” it added.

“SJM strongly opposes the developed countries suggestion for an exemption for low-income, resource-poor or livelihood fishing or fishing-related activities in developing countries operating within 12 nautical miles, with a limit of only five years for fishing in the EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” SJM said.

“Therefore, we urge the government to look for renegotiating on these issues,” SJM added.


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