WTO talks on Day 4: Hectic parleys on to end impasse

Synopsis

India is pressing for a permanent solution to the issue of public stock holding of grains for food security programmes; asking developed countries engaged in distant water fishing to stop providing any kind of subsidies for 25 years; and permitting emerging economies to supply food grains at government-to-government basis from public stock holding.

Agencies
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With the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meet extended by one more day till Thursday, hectic parleys are on to bridge differences between developed and emerging economies on issues such as agriculture, fisheries subsidies, and temporary patent waiver to deal with the pandemic, sources said. They said talks are happening among all the trade ministers on all the issues and India is clearly stating that it will not compromise the interests of farmers and fishermen.

“India is clearly articulating its stand. There are livelihood issues and we want enough space in all those matters for policy actions. India is not a deal breaker. It is only articulating the needs of the country. Hectic negotiations are going on and the negotiations have entered into a critical stage,” they added.

India is pressing for a permanent solution to the issue of public stock holding of grains for food security programmes; asking developed countries engaged in distant water fishing to stop providing any kind of subsidies for 25 years; and permitting emerging economies to supply food grains at government-to-government basis from public stock holding.

It is also pitching for providing temporary patent waiver to deal with the pandemic by enhancing the reach of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics; and ending moratorium on customs duties on e-commerce trade.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on the proposed fisheries subsidies agreement has said that the country wants a transition period of 25 years as it provides subsidies to support poor fishermen who are engaged in the activity for their sustenance.

New Delhi is pitching for finding a permanent solution to the issue of public stock holding (PSH) for its food security programmes.

PSH programme is a policy tool under which the government procures crops like rice and wheat from farmers at minimum support price (MSP), and stores and distributes foodgrains to the poor.

As part of a permanent solution, India has asked for measures like amendments in the formula to calculate the food subsidy cap.

Goyal has stated that one cannot tread the path of trade on an empty stomach.

He has said that it is possible to find a solution as there are well established and proven mechanisms available and documents are on the table which can be adopted and finalised.

Expressing concerns over the way some developed countries are nitpicking on the proposal of patent waiver to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic under the

of WTO, India has stated that nations that are supporting the proposal are getting a completely “half-baked” deal and that will not allow them to take any vaccines.

In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal, suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement in relation to the prevention, containment, or treatment of Covid-19. In May 2021, a revised proposal was submitted by 62 co-sponsors, including India, South Africa, and Indonesia.

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