India’s food security programme has been in focus in WTO since the Bali Session and thereafter till 31-7-2014. Much of the recent debate revolved around why India should not link the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) with the Ministerial Declaration on public stockholding for food security purpose.
Earlier India and other developing nations had put forth a proposal to amend the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) to exclude public stockholding from the calculations towards Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS). Another point of concern was that the calculations continue to be based on prices in 1985-86 without taking into account inflation and the current day realities. The AoA, the minimum leeway developing nations had even while entering into agreement and the argument that food can hardly be bound by trade rules, have surfaced time and again.
In Bali last year, the WTO members seemed to have agreed to break the deadlock by agreeing to a peace clause as an interim mechanism, until a permanent solution was found, to prevent dispute settlement proceedings for any breach of the AoA by stocking of certain staple foods. The members achieved consensus on implementing the TFA. However, the members failed to convene a meeting of the General Council before 31-7-2014 to adopt the protocol, even as some members have started working towards facilitation by way of reform in customs procedure, infrastructure, etc.
In his closing remarks the WTO Director General called the Members to reflect and take efforts to resolve the differences so that all members can reap the benefits of TFA.