Another feather in PM Modi's cap! India, US resolve deadlock over WTO's TFA deal

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New Delhi, Nov 13: Prime Minister Narendra Modi who scored high on diplomacy front recently, has added another feather in his cap. After remaining in cold storage for months, the trade facilitation Agreement(TFA) at WTO has been resolved.

India and US have jointly reached to an agreement over food security related issues. With the US agreeing to support India's proposal on public stockpiling of food, it would now go for ratification by the WTO General Council to facilitate signing of TFA deal.

Another feather in Modi's cap!

Announcing the breakthrough, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that India and the US have successfully resolved their differences in WTO. This will "pave the way for spurring the WTO to more such success," she said, while expressing confidence that members would "take the matter forward in WTO in a constructive spirit".

The Minister further said that many nations saw merit in India's stand at WTO and that the US has also "appreciated and now openly supported our concerns on public stockholding." "India has never obstructed trade facilitation... We were only trying to safeguard our farmer's interests," she added.

"WTO General Council will receive India's proposal and US will support us," Sitharaman said, while adding that there was a greater understanding of India's position after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US.

"India is a strong supporter of the multilateral trading system and we are committed to strengthen it. Bali agreement was not perfect. We had raised these issues for a course correction... We have raised our issues... We are happy to say our differences have been resolved," she said in a series of tweets.

In July, India had denied signing the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) expressing its concern about food subsidy and stockpiling of food grains.

The US earlier had blamed India for the collapse of WTO talks for the Trade Facilitation Pact (TFA) and had said New Delhi's position had put WTO's future in uncertain ground. India had made it clear that it would not ratify TFA until a permanent solution was found on food security issue.

Read more- Know what is WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement and why India is opposing it

New Delhi had asked WTO to amend norms for calculating agriculture subsidies so that it can continue to procure foodgrains from farmers at minimum support price and sell them to the poor at cheaper rates without violating the norms.

The current WTO norms limit the value of food subsidies at 10 per cent of the total value of food grain production. However, the quantum of subsidy is computed after taking into consideration prices that prevailed two decades ago. There are apprehensions that once India would fully implement its food security programme it may breach the cap.

Earlier, appreciating efforts of India and the US to end the impasse over trade facilitation and food security issues, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo expressed hope that talks will help end the stalemate.

"The Director General was pleased to hear that the dialogue between the US and India had resumed. He hopes that this dialogue will continue and will be fruitful in advancing efforts to resolve the current impasse, but he is not aware that any understanding has been reached as yet," WTO said in a statement.

Additional Secretary in the Commerce Ministry J S Deepak and Indian Ambassador at WTO Anjali Prasad met WTO chiefAzevedo recently in Geneva. The WTO chief have asked all members to increase efforts to iron out issues.

"I encourage all WTO members to redouble their efforts to find a solution given the seriousness of the situation that the organisation is currently in," Azevedo on Wednesday said in New Delhi.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had attributed the impasse to the unreasonable posturing by some developed countries.

"India is certainly not opposed to trade facilitation. Let me make it very clear... We are agreeing to a multilateral arrangement on trade facilitation but please keep the peace clause alive till the dispute is settled with regard to the stock holding," Jaitley had said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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