WTO impasse broken as India, US reach food security deal

Wednesday 10th December 2014 06:45 EST

India and the United States have resolved differences on the issue of public stockholding for food security, paving the way for revival of stalled global trade talks and implementation of the pact on trade facilitation for easier customs rules.“We are extremely happy that India and the US have successfully resolved their differences relating to the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes in the WTO in a manner that address our concerns,” India's commerce & industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters. Details of the deal were not disclosed.
The bilateral agreement makes clear that a mechanism under which WTO members will not challenge such food security programmes under WTO dispute settlement procedures will remain in place until a permanent solution regarding this issue has been agreed and adopted, a statement from the US trade representative said. The “peace clause”, which would have prevented action at the WTO, was to be in place for four years, raising fears that the developed countries would walk away with the trade facilitation pact without addressing India's concerns.
The decision will come as a major boost for the Narendra Modi government as the Bali agreement was one of the first issues red-flagged by it after assuming charge. The stand had come in for severe criticism from across the world and even within the country but the pact with the US reinforces Modi's image as a man who stays firm.
The India-US agreement comes ahead of the G20 meeting in Brisbane where the PM met US President Barack Obama and other global leaders. With the deal done, the world's 20 largest economies are expected to signal their commitment to free and fair global trade talks. Next week a team from the WTO is scheduled to visit India to assess its trade policies.
The deal gives India the flexibility to provide minimum support price and procure as much grain as it wants for its security programme without being challenged by other WTO members at the global trade body .India agrees with U.S. on food stockpiling, clears way for WTO deal
Obama praises Modi's 'personal leadership' in breaking WTO deadlock
The US President has commended the "personal leadership" role provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in finding a path forward on WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) reached between the two countries, a presidential spokesperson said. "The president had extensive discussions with Prime Minister Modi on this issue and appreciates his personal leadership in finding a path forward," the White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement after India and US announced that the two countries have reached an agreement on TFA.
Obama who met the Prime Minister briefly on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, described Modi as a man of action.
In a statement, Earnest said the important breakthrough reached between the United States and India will unlock progress toward the full and immediate implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which will lower the costs of trade for developed and developing countries alike.
"This breakthrough will also strengthen the multilateral trading system and give a boost to its ongoing work, including in the area of food security," he said. "Combined with the recent announcement of a breakthrough on the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and the agreement among Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Leaders that the end of those landmark negotiations is coming into focus, this has been a good week for expanding opportunities for American businesses and workers and for promoting growth around the globe," Earnest said.

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