Indian reason for not signing WTO TFA:millions of farmers' livelihood at stake

India refused to sign on WTO treaty  without a permanent solution on food subsidies, India's public stockholding programmes such a buffer stock of food-grains will be hampered by the present ceiling on subsidy to farmers.
"This is a good enough time to think about our follow up action. Obviously our proposal is there on the table and we will pursue our proposal," Rajeev Kher, commerce secretary told PTI.
Existing rules cap the value of food subsidies at 10% of the value of production. But the way the support is calculated at prices of more than two decades earlier means many countries would find it difficult to stay within the limit, potentially attracting strong penalties from the trade body.
This will affect India's food security programme and food grain procurement through the minimum support prices (MSP).
"The MSP policy acts as a means to keep farmers engaged in cultivation and if this comes into question, the livelihood of half of India's population would be in jeopardy. More than 90% of India's farmers are resource-poor, who own less than 10 hectares of unirrigated land," a source said.
According to Indian trade negotiators, developed countries have pressed for early adoption of the TFA that will give them enhanced market access but have avoided discussions on other issues.
India also made a strong pitch for deciding on a roadmap with clear timelines for different stages till finding a solution by December31, 2014 and reviewing the progress by the WTO's General Council in October this year.
Not opposed to TFA
"India has no problem implementing the TFA. However, given the resistance to taking forward other decisions, the concern is that once the TFA is implemented, none of the developed countries is likely to come back to the negotiating table to discuss the food subsidy issue or any of the other non-binding outcomes of the Bali ministerial conference," a top government official told HT, requesting anonymity.
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According to the official, India is already close to breaching the permissible levels of subsidies for rice and wheat offered through the MSP driven food-grain procurement system. "The only way to force action on the other decisions was to slow down the implementation of the decision on trade facilitation and the only time to do it was before the General Council adopted the protocol of amendment," the official said.
"Once the TFA is implemented, India would have lost the bargaining space for an outcome on food security," the source said.
Back to the drawing boardAzevedo indicated that it was back to the drawing board for the WTO. "The fact we do not have a conclusion means that we are entering a new phase in our work - a phase which strikes me as being full of uncertainties," the WTO director general said.
"We have a natural hiatus in our calendar as people leave for the summer break in the coming days," he said. "So I invite you all to use this time to think carefully about what the next steps might be. I urge you to reflect long and hard on the ramifications of this setback." "I think we should take the time to reflect and come back in September."
This stance to brazen it out, however, carries the risk of pushing India into a corner if the WTO decides to adopt the TFA by a simple majority. Besides, pressure from developed countries could adversely affect bilateral trade ties.