WTO deal nears as India, US resolve food security row

New Delhi: India and the US have resolved differences over public stock holding for food security, a development that could pave the way for early implementation of the trade facilitation deal at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

India and the US have reached an understanding on implementation of agreements reached at the December 2013 WTO ministerial meetings in Bali regarding specific food security programmes maintained by some developing countries, a statement by the US trade representative said.

The US has agreed to an indefinite ‘peace clause’ until a permanent solution to the issue is found, The peace clause gives legal security to member-countries and protects them from being challenged under other WTO agreements.

India had earlier refused to ratify the trade facilitation agreement, which is aimed at easing customs procedures, till its concerns over finding a permanent solution on the issue of food security and public stockholding were addressed—a stand that had seen India being criticized by developed countries for stalling the WTO deal. India demanded that a peace clause on food subsidies should be continued till a permanent settlement on the issue is found rather than the stipulated four years.

“The bilateral agreement makes clear that a mechanism under which WTO Members will not challenge such food security programs under WTO dispute settlement procedures will remain in place until a permanent solution regarding this issue has been agreed and adopted,” the US trade representative’s statement said.

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