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

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Trade Facilitation vs Agriculture

WTO Upside Down

The Indian decision to block adoption of a decision on trade facilitation at the World Trade Organisation has been portrayed as "short-sighted". If truth be told, long-pending proposals for reforming the Agreement on Agriculture were being sidelined, while interested parties were pushing ahead with the new agenda on trade facilitation. A clearer understanding of the issues in agriculture vs the issues in trade facilitation would enable a better appreciation of what is at stake.

“A ripe pear ready to be plucked” at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is being delayed because of India. The ripe pear is the 21st century version of the “Open Door Policy” embodying the new Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The United States (US) and its partners in the industrialised world have invested considerable negotiating capital in the TFA since 1996. Their new trade narrative of global value chains (GVCs) as being vehicles for enhanced market access in industrial goods and services in developing countries will hinge on how rapidly the TFA is implemented.

But India has come in their way because it first wants reform of archaic rules in the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) before the adoption of the Trade Facilitation (TF) protocol to commence implementation of the new agreement by July 2015. The stand-off between India and the US over agriculture has created an impasse for the time being.

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