In a stern message, India has told the UN General Assembly that developing countries must have the freedom to use food reserves to feed the poor “without the threat of sanctions” and a permanent solution on food security with necessary changes in WTO rules is a must.
“The issue of food security is central to the pursuit of poverty eradication and sustainable development in developing countries and must be treated with the same urgency as other issues, if not more,” Counselor in the Indian Mission to the UN Amit Narang said in a UN General Assembly session on ‘Macroeconomic Policy Questions: International Trade and Development’.
He termed as “paradoxical” that just as the international community is assigning a high priority to food security as part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda there seems reluctance in addressing the important issue as part of global trade rules.
“A permanent solution on food security with necessary changes in WTO rules, if required, is a must and cannot be kicked down the road,” Narang said.
He said that India had participated actively and “in good faith” in the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Bali in December 2013 and the country remains committed to the Bali decisions, including the one on trade facilitation.
“While all focus seems to be on the agreement on trade facilitation, the same sort of commitment is not evident on other Bali decisions, in particular the agreement on food security,” he said.
“Overall balance is important even in a limited package of outcomes. The Bali outcomes were negotiated as a package and must be concluded as such,” he said, adding that “developing countries such as India must have the freedom to use food reserves to feed their poor without the threat of sanctions.”
He said that India has stressed that trade and investment and an open, rules-based, transparent and non-discriminatory WTO-based trading system can play an important role in restoring global growth.
“As we collectively deliberate on the contours of a Post-2015 Development Agenda, it is time we unleash the full potential of international trade as an engine for growth and tool for sustainable development,” he added.
“India is a strong supporter of the multilateral trading system and is committed to the WTO, which is in the best interests of developing countries,” he said.
“What is needed is collective political will to effect timely corrections to imbalances in the working of the system and its rules to ensure that the WTO works impartially and fairly in the interest of all its members and not just a select few,” he said.
Noting that there is an urgent need to conclude the Doha Round as per its development mandate, Narang said the round is not about the perpetuation of structural flaws in global trade, especially in agriculture.
India has made it clear that it would stick to its position on the food security issue at the WTO as it is the sovereign duty of the government to protect the interest of its poor and that it would not ratify Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) until a permanent solution was found on the food security issue.