22:20 GMT +321 October 2018
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    India Slams US for Blocking Hunger Solution at WTO

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    While the US has alleged that countries with impressionable GDP are availing WTO concessions in the name of “self-proclaimed” development status, India has accused the US of derailing efforts to solve the world's hunger problem by refusing to endorse public stockholding for food security.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — India has strongly condemned the US' denial to endorse a food security solution at the ongoing 11th WTO ministerial meet (MC11) claiming that such move by a major country could irreversibly damage the credibility of the WTO. Issuing a statement, India's Ministry of Commerce said that major member country has reneged on a commitment made two years ago to deliver a solution of critical importance for addressing hunger in some of the poorest countries of the world.

    "Today in the agriculture negotiations in Buenos Aires, a major country stated categorically that they cannot agree to any permanent solution on the public stockholding issue at MC11. This has posed a severe threat to a successful conclusion of the Conference as there was a Ministerial mandate for a permanent solution by MC11. India is surprised and deeply disappointed that despite an overwhelming majority of Members reiterating it, a major member country has reneged on a commitment made two years ago to deliver a solution of critical importance for addressing hunger in some of the poorest countries of the world. This has the potential to irreversibly damage the credibility of the WTO as a Ministerial Decision of all countries present in Nairobi has not been honored," India's Commerce Ministry said without directly naming the US.

    Meanwhile, reacting on the US stance that some of the richest countries in the world had been availing WTO concessions in the name of "self-proclaimed" development status, India's Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu claimed that India is a right candidate for preferential treatment as it is home to more than 600 million poor people. "Differential treatment to countries with low per-capita income is one of the fundamental objectives of the World Trade Organization (WTO)," he said.

    "While in India, we are proud of our GDP and growth rates of recent years, propelled by innovative economic policies of my government, we cannot ignore that India is home to more than 600 million poor people,"  Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, who is attending the WTO ministerial meet in Buenos Aires, said.

    Earlier at the WTO ministerial discourse on public stockholding for food security purposes, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had said that five of the six richest countries in the world were seeking concessions.

    "We need to clarify our understanding of development within the WTO. We cannot sustain a situation in which new rules can only apply to the few, and that others will be given a pass in the name of self-proclaimed development status. There is something wrong, in our view, when five of the six richest countries in the world presently claim developing country status," Lighthizer said.

    Experts in India are of the opinion that the US denial to back the concept of public stockholding for food security purposes is reminiscent of the compulsion on its exchequer to reduce the burden of subsidies given to farmers who go into losses when their products do not find a way to the global market.

    "US is just looking at newer markets. The US has excess produce which it wants to sell to big markets like India. Lesser opportunity for export means the farmers in the US suffer losses and they have to compensate it from their exchequer. Farmers are a very strong lobby in US. They are just worried about their increasing subsidy bill," Vijay Sardana, agri-business expert told Sputnik.

    The irony is that the US never talks of parity of subsidy to farmers. If WTO is all about equitable markets, human welfare and due rights to nations then American farmer has more subsidy. This whole debate is about the contest between farmers of two countries. It is the treasury of US pitched against the poor farmers in developing countries, Sardana added.

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    World Trade Organization (WTO), Suresh Prabhu, India, United States
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