The USA has refused to honour its own promises of finding a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding of food grains by countries for food security in the WTO Ministerial Conference 2017 held at Bueones Aires, Argentina.
The earlier meeting held at Nairobi in 2015, where it was agreed by all the nations to find a common ground on the issue. The USA, in this recent meeting, said it cannot agree on a permanent solution to this issue in the current Ministerial meeting. The Indian delegation is led by Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu, who has found support on this matter from other developing countries including China and South Africa.
The bone of contention between developed countries and developing countries is regarding putting a 10% cap on the food subsidy in the agriculture sector. The agenda started in 2001 at Doha to resolve all pending issue around food subsidy could not be put in the 11th WTO ministerial declaration at Buenos Aries. The USA found the support of 55 countries on this issue of not including any work programme in the joint declaration by the participating countries.
The Food Subsidy
WTO allows member countries to subsidise their food grains up to 10 % of total value of production, based on the reference Price of 1986-88. This rule has been violated by India multiple times as complained by the USA in WTO. India has submitted its subsidy reports claiming that it is not true, and further emphasising that the reference year of 1986-88 must be revised to the changing scenario in the global market.
The peace clause agreed in Bali conference has been made permanent in the meeting which allows no fines on the countries if their 10% subsidy quota becomes more in the reality.The Ministerial Declaration at the WTO has been chased by 164 member countries to support Multilateral trade agreement between the members.
The Result of the 11th ministerial Summit
As usual, it remained an elusive dream of developing nations to find a solution for the long pending issue of public stockpiling. India said that without finding a permanent solution to the unresolved issue, there would be no point discussing on other sectors such as electronic commerce and fisheries. The Peace clause was first finalised in Bali, where it was decided that no fine would be charged on member nations who cross the allowed limit of 10 % until the final solution is not found.
It was agreed between all the member nations, but today The USA has shifted from its own ground saying it all happened in a different era, and new rule must be defined. The trade representative of the USA also wrote a column in a newspaper saying nothing as such of Doha agenda will be discussed or included in the work programme of 2017 WTO meeting.
The next WTO ministerial conference is scheduled to be held in 2019. It remains to be seen what the future holds for the multilateral trade agreement between member nations. The USA and the EU are in no mood to take the issue of Doha agenda in the future conferences.