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WTO chief Roberto Azevedo says India's Food Bill will increase subsidies

World Trade Organization (WTO) director general Roberto Azevedo Azevedo said that India's food security law will raise subsidy levels but the issue needs to be addressed in a positive manner.

Mail Today Bureau | October 10, 2013 | Updated 12:50 IST
Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma and WTO director general Roberto Azevedo
Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma and WTO director general Roberto Azevedo at a meeting in New Delhi on Monday.

Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma in his meeting with World Trade Organization (WTO) director general Roberto Azevedo in New Delhi on Monday stood firm on India implementing the new food security law, which is being opposed by western countries such as the US and Canada on the ground that it would distort trade.

Azevedo said that India's food security law will raise subsidy levels but the issue needs to be addressed in a positive manner.

India is also keen to win legitimacy from WTO for the ambitious food security law and open to the issue being discussed at the WTO ministerial conference on Bali in December.

Terming it as a very complex issue, Azvedo said, "I doubt immensely that we are going to have a finalised solution on all aspects of this issue in four weeks. From up front rejection, we now are building an environment for a very constructive engagement that will try to address this issue in a positive manner," Azevedo said in a joint press conference with Sharma.

India's contention is that the western countries extend huge subsidies running into billions of dollars to their own farm sector but are opposed to poor countries giving genuine support to marginal farmers and cheap food to the poor. As food prices and the number of poor to be supported in developing countries have risen in the last two decades since the agreement on agriculture was framed, these subsidies have gone up substantially.

India is apprehensive that once the food security legislation is fully implemented, its food subsidies will breach the 10- per cent mark.

When asked whether can India dilute its stand on the food security issue, Sharma said as all WTO member-countries have different level of development and are facing different challenges. There is a need to find a middle ground, he added.

Courtesy: Mail Today 

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