India opposes WTO draft on agriculture; joint strategy on the anvil

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New Delhi, May 27 (UNI) India today expressed reservations on supporting the draft proposal on agriculture at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and said the country was working out alliances with like-minded countries to formulate a joint strategy at negotiations in the world fora.

Commerce Secretary G K Pillai told newspersons here that proposals relating to the Doha Round ought to be made ''simple'' and ''not complicated''.

The draft proposals on agriculture were circulated on May 19, which include for the first time, a formula for cutting farm subsidies and tariffs by the industrialised countries as part of the wider negotiations.

''If you (developed countries) are serious about the Doha Round, make it simple and don't complicate things,'' Mr Pillai said.

He said a grand alliance is being worked with like-minded countries on formulating future WTO strategy.

The official said India would make all out efforts to protect the interest of its farmers for whom agriculture was a livelihood issue. He regretted that the farmers of rich countries get huge subsidies and spoke about the reluctance of the developed world to bring down tariffs and agricultural subsides.

Talking about the United States Farm Bill, Mr Pillai said the eligibility criteria for subsidy entails bringing into the fold all farmers with a maximum income of 5,00,000 dollars per year.

''They are fighting for the prosperity of their farmers and I'm fighting for the livelihood of my farmers,'' Mr Pillai added.

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