India for strong outcome on permanent solution on PSH programs
Published in SUNS #8594 dated 12 December 2017

Buenos Aires 11 Dec (D. Ravi Kanth) - India's trade minister Suresh Prabhu has called for a strong outcome on the permanent solution for public stockholding (PSH) programs for food security at Buenos Aires and said this is a priority issue and a must-have for his government.

The permanent solution is a mandated issue and must be concluded on a credible basis at Buenos Aires to send a strong signal that the WTO stands for the resource-poor farmers and fighting hunger, the trade minister emphasized.

Prabhu said an outcome on the permanent solution will send a strong signal about the WTO's commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

He said India and the G33 members had engaged constructively in finalizing the outcome which has to be an "improvement" over the perpetual peace clause.

Trade ministers had agreed to an interim solution at the WTO's ninth ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013, and later it was further clarified in November 2014, when the WTO's General Council had agreed on a perpetual peace clause with a permanent peace clause to be finalized by the eleventh ministerial conference which is now taking place in Buenos Aires.

Prabhu said he will not accept any linkages between the permanent solution and issues concerning domestic support as suggested by Brazil and some other farm exporting countries.

India along with China has proposed the elimination of aggregate measurement of support (AMS) or most trade- distorting support for commencing work on domestic support.

The Indian trade minister emphasized the importance of affirming the "multilateral trading system" which is the scaffolding for addressing developmental outcomes for global trade and development.

India remains opposed to bringing "differentiation" among developing countries into the WTO architecture, saying special and differential flexibilities are at the core of the WTO obligations.

India, he said, has opposed a change in the existing mandate for the electronic commerce based on the 1998 work program.

India has rejected other new issues such as investment facilitation and disciplines for micro, small, and medium enterprises in the run-up to the Buenos Aires meeting.

India feels that investment facilitation will not result in enhancing more investment to developing countries but it would result in restricting their choices.

[According to a news report in The Hindu, India has objected to some rich countries using an influential forum called the "Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organisation (WTO)" to indirectly push certain "non-trade" issues like labour and environment standards as well as gender equality into the global trade body's negotiation agenda.

["According to India, it is not fair to link labour and environment standards as well as gender equality to trade, and insist on rule-making on these topics at a multilateral level as such a move would constrain the governments of developing nations from incentivising and promoting these areas to address developmental challenges. India expressed apprehensions that rich nations are using high standards on labour, environment and gender equality as a ploy to curb exports from the developing economies to the developed world," said The Hindu report.

[According to The Hindu report, India is also learnt to have pointed out the double standards of certain countries from the developed world that are pitching for inclusion of such non-trade issues into the multilateral negotiations agenda, but are coming in the way of progressive treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement on climate change as well as the linkage between the TRIPS Agreement and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity for protecting traditional knowledge and folklore. SUNS]