ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rejection of an Imbalance

India was in the right to reject the asymmetry in progress on the Bali package of the World Trade Organisation.

India’s timely decision at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to link the adoption of a protocol on a new Trade Facilitation (TF) agreement to finding a permanent agreement on deve­loping countries being able to maintain public stockholding programmes for food security has caused an unusual storm. The United States (US) and its allies have been terribly upset with India’s move as it has caught them on the wrong foot. These countries were about to celebrate their victory for being able to pocket the TF agreement without addressing the core trade issues in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), which are of interest to the larger group of developing countries. Adoption of the TF protocol would have cleared the decks for launching a new work programme at the WTO that would have ignored the previous decisions taken in the DDA negotiations since 2001 and would have been based largely on Washington’s main interests in obtaining greater market access for agriculture and industrial goods, and services. The developmental issues in the DDA were all set for a formal burial.

The game plan of the US and its allies with active collaboration from WTO Director General Roberto Carvalho de Azevedo came unstuck at the 11th hour. Their angry criticism of India is that the country went back on the December 2013 Bali Ministerial Declaration where it had surrendered its position on TF agreement and agreed to an interim “peace clause” (WTO parlance for countries agreeing not to challenge violations of any trade agreement) for public stockholding programmes for food security till 2017. If India had intended to make a connection between the two, i e, the TF agreement and a permanent solution for food security, it should have made it explicit at the Bali meeting, they have argued.

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