Millennium Post

Did Govt really succeed at Bali WTO meet?

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, his colleagues in the Manmohan Singh Government, and large swathes of the English media have been screaming for the last 24 hours about India’s ‘historic success’ in saving the Food Security Bill at the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) ministerial conference in Bali, Indonesia.

This is because the US-led Western countries, which provide huge subsidies in their own economies but do not want India and other emerging economies’ subsidies to cross 10 per cent of overall production, have agreed not to have a four-year ‘peace clause’ during which ‘India can continue its food security spending.’

However, this is only an interim mechanism and the permission to continue to negotiate for a permanent solution. It covers only the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), which had stipulated the 10 per cent subsidy limit, and not the Agreement of Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM).

This might allow wily developed country governments to claim that our food programmes are affecting export markets.

And incidentally, the Cabinet which is responsible to Parliament elected by the people, had decided that the arrangement should also include ASCM. But the final Bali text excludes it. Why?
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