Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu urged the developed countries to find a
permanent solution on the issue of Public stockholding of food grains for food
security purposes. Since this issue is of tremendous importance not only to
India but to all developing countries, a solution to this issue would give a
strong signal of World Trade Organisation's determination to end hunger and
achieve food security. This is mandated in the United Nations sustainable
development goal two the commerce minister asserted.
Mr Pabhu who was addressing informal Ministerial gathering at Marakesh
spoke about India's priorities and position regarding various issues under
discussion in the WTO.
Emphasizing the importance of special and differential treatment for
developing countries, the Commerce
Minister said India would be willing to engage on proposals that
recognized this right for all developing countries without exception.
He pointed out that in India, the total number of people dependent on
agriculture in one way or another is close to 600 million, with nearly 98 per
cent of Indian farmers being low income or resource poor and mostly engaged in
subsistence farming. Under such circumstances, it was imperative for India to
balance trade liberalization with the need to protect the livelihood of its
farmers, he said.
Mr Prabhu called upon WTO members to first deal with the issues which were
already under negotiation, before moving on to new ones.
On the issue of discipline on fisheries subsidies, the Commerce Minister
also stressed the importance of suitable special and differential treatment
provisions and the need to make a clear distinction between large scale
commercial fishing and traditional fishing.
He pointed out that in India a large number of small, largely resource poor
fish workers depended on traditional fishing activity as a source of
livelihood. He observed that developing countries like India, possessing very
low fishing capacity, would also need to retain policy space to promote and
create such capacity.
Mr Prabhu also spoke about the importance of a transparent and inclusive
process of negotiations at the WTO and the need to do all preparatory work
before the Meeting so that only issues, which have matured for conclusion, are
taken forward to the Ministerial Conference. India’s stance was very well
received from all quarters making the Minister’s visit a big success.
The Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu attended an Informal WTO Ministerial
Gathering in Marrakesh, Morocco from October 9 to 10. The meeting was held in
preparation for the Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) of the WTO scheduled
to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from December 10 to 13.
Ministers and delegates of 35 WTO member countries exchanged views on what
could be realistically achieved and the possibilities for compromise. The
objective of the informal gathering was to provide political impetus to the
negotiations and guidance on potential outcomes.
Mr. Prabhu, led discussions on behalf of the developing world and
reiterated commitment to the Doha Round. He referred to the agreed objectives
of the agriculture negotiations in the Doha Round and called for continuation
of the reform process and to avoid further widening and perpetuation of the
imbalance between developed and developing countries. He pointed out that any
meaningful reform in agriculture must first seek to reduce the
disproportionately large subsidies of the developed countries.
sidelines of the meeting, the Commerce Minister also held marathon bilateral
meetings to push India’s trade in a comprehensive manner. He met Ministers from
the EU, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Rwanda, Morocco, as well as
the Director General of the WTO.