G33, including India, calls for outcome on public stockholding at WTO MC13

G33, including India, calls for outcome on public stockholding at WTO MC13

The G33 group of developing countries, including India, has called for an outcome on public stockholding for food security purposes at the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) based on the joint proposal of about 80 members, including those from the African Group and the ACP, submitted earlier.

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The group also stressed on developing country members’ right to the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) as an important instrument against major import surges or sudden price declines, in a G33 Ministerial statement on agriculture trade negotiations arrived at by Trade Ministers and representatives at the WTO MC13 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

“A vast majority of the members recognise the critical importance of public stockholding for food security purposes for developing country members, including LDCs and NFIDCs (net food importing developing countries), in meeting our food and livelihood security, as well as our rural development imperative, including supporting low income or resource poor producers,” it said.

A permanent solution to PSH is important to India and many other developing countries as it would legitimise higher subsidies for stockholding programmes such as the MSP, that are subject to a cap of 10 per cent of value of production. A peace clause agreed to at the Bali Ministerial Conference of 2013 gives many developing countries, including India, immunity against legal action from other members in case the PSH subsidies exceed the limit. But it is limited to programmes existing in 2013 and riddled with many onerous conditions. Developing nations want the legitimacy to be built into the WTO Agreement on Agriculture through a permanent solution.

On SSM, the G33 said it was ready to consider the submission by the African Group which covers most of the interests of developing country members in a fair and balanced manner, and engage in enhanced technical discussions.

The countries expressed their deep concern about FAO projections that almost 600 million people will be chronically undernourished in 2030, and hunger will increase significantly in Africans.

“We also regret serious lack of progress in agriculture trade negotiations, including to fulfill the outstanding mandates of previous Ministerial Conferences. Progress is key to restore trust between members and preserve the credibility of the WTO,” it said.

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The G33 expressed commitment in moving forward agriculture trade negotiations in good faith, including after the WTO MC13, with a view to correct the imbalances in the Agreement on Agriculture and address unparalleled food security challenges of developing country members, including LDCs and NFIDCs.

“Finally, we strongly maintain that Special and Differential Treatment for developing country members, including LDCs and NFIDCs, must be preserved in the WTO and its agreements, and non-trade concerns of members must always be taken into account in agriculture trade negotiations,” it added.

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