00:50 GMT +319 December 2018
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    Australia Petitions WTO Over India’s Domestic Subsidy on Sugar

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    The government of Australia has claimed that the use of domestic subsidies by India has contributed to a significant downturn in world sugar prices that is impacting Australia’s local sugar industry that has suffered a $360 million loss in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

    A day after a crucial meeting of the Quad (India, US, Japan, and Australia) in Singapore, one of the members went to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to file a complaint against another member. In its counter notification to the WTO on Thursday, Australia has claimed that India's subsidies on sugar are hurting its local cane growers.

    The issue is likely to come up before the WTO's agriculture committee meeting on November 26 in Geneva. On November 14, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had publicly urged his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to remove the sugar subsidies. 

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    "We are disappointed our concerns haven't been addressed and now see little choice other than to ramp up our efforts to stand up for the rights of our cane farmers and sugar millers. We will now engage in formal discussions with India and other WTO members regarding this issue at the upcoming WTO Committee of Agriculture meeting later this month," Simon Birmingham, Australia's Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment said.

    AAustralia claims that the Indian subsidy on sugar is badly impacting its $2 billion sugar industry which creates about 40 000 direct and indirect jobs in the country. Australia's Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud has alleged distortions to the global sugar market had impacted Australia's 4 000 cane farms and 24 sugar mills.

    Officials at India's commerce ministry refused to make any comment on the Australian move when contacted by Sputnik.

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    However, given the present circumstances of India's sugar industry and cane growers, it is unlikely that the Indian government will make any rapprochement on the issue. 

    India is the largest producer of sugar in the world with 32 million ton production in 2018. But, excess production has led to a steady decline in sugar prices, affecting the financial health of sugar mills that are facing a huge accumulation of arrears to be paid to farmers.

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    Tags:
    farm, commerce, sugar, subsidies, World Trade Organization (WTO), India, Australia
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