Japan, US, EU to cooperate against unfair trade practices

Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed addressing a plenary session at the ongoing WTO 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires Argentina

Japan, US, EU to cooperate against unfair trade practices

The United States has virtually wrecked India's hopes of a better deal on its food security programme at the ongoing ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization, with Indian officials reportedly blaming the USA of reneging on its commitments.

India's attempts to find a permanent solution to the food stockpile issue at the 11th edition of the ministerial conference (MC11), has hit a roadblock as the USA refused to engage, threatening a successful conclusion of the four-day conference.

India and U.S. were also engaged in a debate at the ongoing ministerial meeting over India's developing country status, reports said.

In an velied reference to India, US Trade Representative Lighthizer remarked that "there is something wrong, in our view, when five of the six richest countries in the world presently claim developing country status". The two ministers discussed issues related to bilateral relations and ongoing negotiations on the India-EFTA.

The Indian team led by Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu, in cooperation with the G33 grouping, has been pitching hard for permanent solution to food security issue as it is crucial for livelihood of 800 million people across the globe.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko, and European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom pose for a photo before a meeting at the 11th World Trade Organization's ministerial conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 12, 2017.

During the panel discussion, Prabhu emphasised on the issue of food and nutrition security for India's population. If the only outcome in agriculture at the Buenos Aires ministerial were to be the creation of a massive, permanent loophole for the most trade distorting programs, the ministerial would be a failure. We have tried our best to engage with members in all formats.

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He underscored the worldwide community's commitment to achieving a peaceful solution, the statement said. Six U.N. agencies, with approximately 50 worldwide staff, are represented in North Korea.

Nor were there any agreements in other areas such as agriculture, food security, fishing or e-trade, Rockwell said, adding that the partners were still negotiating.

WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters one of the 164 member countries was refusing to sign a document stressing the importance of the multilateral trade system and of development.

While the possible inability of countries to reach a consensus on the issue of public stock holding has been a set back for the G-33 coalition of countries with defensive interests in agriculture that includes India, the current impasse will not have any immediate impact for the Government of India in providing any product specific support to staples like rice, wheat, etc. accordingto senior officials of the government of India. India was supported by over a 100 WTO member countries on all agriculture issues including our proposal to set the direction of agriculture reforms by first eliminating the most trade-distorting form of subsidies used mainly by the rich developed countries.

Today in the agriculture negotiations in Buenos Aires, a major country stated categorically that they can not agree to any permanent solution on the public stockholding issue at MC11.

The effort, the release said, would be to ensure that declaration reaffirms the principles of the multilateral trading system, commits to completion of the Doha Development Agenda, maintains centrality of development and availability of special and differential treatment to developing countries.

The only way out for India now is through voting without the United States, though that has never happened at the WTO where all decisions have been taken by consensus.

This effectively means that the USA will not offer any more relaxation on food security programmes as demanded by India and China along with others.

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