NEW DELHI(PTI): Raising a red flag over “key issues being pushed into the future” at the WTO, India on Wednesday said there is little convergence of views at global trade body on the issue of export competition agreement.
“We are disappointed at the cavalier manner in which these issues are being pushed into the future. On the other hand, there is a sudden inexplicable zeal to harvest Export Competition. On this we are told there is convergence, when in fact, there appears to be little,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at the Plenary Session here.
The European Union and some other countries, including Brazil, are seeking a deal on export competition during the ongoing WTO’s Ministerial meeting . Sitharaman’s statement counters the claims being made in some quarters here about emergence of a consensus on the issue.
Developed countries, which are accused of giving huge ‘trade-distorting’ farm subsidies, want emerging nations like India to take greater commitments in terms of reducing their export support.
Some developed nations have raised questions over export support given by India to sugar shipments.
Sitharaman said the export competition is one of the pillars of agriculture negotiations and these negotiations are finely balanced on three pillars and “taking out one pillar will disturb the balance”.
In the run up to Bali Ministerial meeting, the G-20 including India, had tabled a proposal on Export Competition. But no binding outcome could be reached as many members raised the same issue of balance in agriculture negotiations.
“Now the efforts are (on) to cherry pick issues from within the Export Competition pillar and further to dilute the provisions to suit a few members. At this late hour, new definitions and language are being proposed. It is not possible to react to these new concepts without extensive domestic consultations,” she said.
Further, these new concepts are being discussed in a limited group of members, Sitharaman said while adding this “severely” impacts the transparency of the process.
During the Plenary Session, EU trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said that a deal in export competition would be beneficial for developing countries.
Brazil has said that one of the options should be to “leave Nairobi with an agreement on prohibition of export subsidies for agriculture products”.
Sitharaman asked the WTO Chair to speedily work on a simplified offer of the G-33.
“We expect the membership to engage constructively on the issue so that we can arrive at an outcome in Nairobi,” she added. The four-day WTO ministerial meeting started on Tuesday.